The lateral line is a placodally derived mechanosensory organ in anamniotes that detects the movement of water. In zebrafish embryos, a migrating primordium deposits seven to nine clusters of sensory hair cells, or neuromasts, at intervals along the trunk. Postembryonically, neuromasts continue to be added. We show that some secondary neuromasts arise from a pool of latent precursors that are deposited by the primordium between primary neuromasts. Interneuromast cells lie adjacent to the lateral line nerve and associated glia. These cells remain quiescent while they are juxtaposed with the glia; however, when they move away from the nerve they increase proliferation and form neuromasts. If glia are manually removed or genetically ablated by mutations in cls/sox10, hypersensitive (hps), or rowgain (rog), neuromasts precociously differentiate. Transplantation of wt glia into mutants rescues the appropriate temporal differentiation of interneuromast cells. Our studies reveal a role for glia in regulating sensory hair cell precursors.