The pharyngeal arches give rise to multiple organs critical for diverse processes, including the thymus, thyroid and parathyroids. Several molecular regulators of thymus and thyroid organogenesis are strikingly conserved between mammals and zebrafish. However, land animals have parathyroids whereas fish have gills. The murine transcription factor Glial cells missing 2 (Gcm2) is expressed specifically in the parathyroid primordium in the endodermal epithelium of the third pharyngeal pouch, and in both mice and humans is required for normal development of parathyroid glands. The molecular regulation of fish gill organogenesis remains to be described. We report the expression of gcm2 in the zebrafish pharyngeal epithelium and a requirement for Hox group 3 paralogs for gcm2 expression. Strikingly, zebrafish gcm2 is expressed in the ectodermal portion of the pharyngeal epithelium and is required for the development of the gill filament buds, precursors of fish-specific gill filaments. This study identifies yet another role for a GCM gene in embryonic development and indicates a role for gcm2 during the evolution of divergent pharyngeal morphologies.