The embryogenesis of Brycon cephalus was established in seven stages: zygote, cleavage, blastula, gastrula, segmentation, larval and hatching, in an incubation period of 11 h (26°C). The zygote phase was observed directly after fertilization and egg hydration. Cleavage began at 0.5 h of incubation and extended up to the morula phase (1.5 h; +100 blastomeres). Cleavage was meroblastic and underwent the following division pattern: the first five divisions were vertical and perpendicular to each other, following the model 2 × 2, 4 × 2, 4 × 4 and 4 × 8. The sixth division was horizontal and occurred at 1.25 h after fertilization, giving rise to two cell layers (4 × 8 × 2) with 64 blastomeres. At the blastula stage (1.25–1.5 h), an irregular space between the blastomeres, the blastocoele, could be detected and the periblast structure initiated. The gastrula (1.75–6.0 h) was characterized by the morphogenetic movements of epiboly, convergence and cell involution, and formation of the embryonic axis. The segmentation stage (7–9 h) comprised the development of somites, the notochord, optic, otic and Kupffer's vesicles, neural tube, primitive intestine and ended with the release of the tail. The larval stage (up to 10 h) was characterized by the presence of 30 somites and growth and elongation of the larvae. At the hatching stage, the embryos presented more than 30 somites and exhibited swimming movements and a soft chorion. The blastomeres presented euchromatic nuclei, indicating a high mitotic activity and many yolk globules in the cytoplasm. The periblast was constituted of a layer with several nuclei and many vesicles, which grew during the epiboly movement.