Nervous system assembly relies on a diversity of cellular processes ranging from dramatic tissue reorganization to local, subcellular changes all driven by precise molecular programs. Combined, these processes culminate in an animal's ability to plan and execute behaviors. Animal behavior can, therefore, serve as a functional readout of nervous system development. Benefitting from an expansive and growing set of molecular and imaging tools paired with an ever-growing number of assays of diverse behaviors, the zebrafish system has emerged as an outstanding platform at the intersection of nervous system assembly, plasticity and behavior. Here, we summarize recent advancements in the field, including how developing neural circuits are refined to shape complex behaviors and plasticity.