Our understanding of how complex carbohydrates function during embryonic development is still very limited, primarily due to the large number of glycosyltransferases now known to be involved in their synthesis. To overcome these limitations, we have taken advantage of the zebrafish system to analyze the function of complex carbohydrates during development by down-regulating the expression of specific glycosyltransferases. Herein, we report the identification of the zebrafish ortholog of mammalian beta1,4-galactosyltransferase I, beta4GalT1, and its requirement for proper convergent extension movements during gastrulation. beta4GalT1 is expressed in the oocyte and throughout the embryo during the first 24 h of development. Knockdown of zebrafish beta4GalT1 by two independent morpholino oligonucleotides results in embryos with a truncated anterior-posterior axis, as well as elongated somites and moderate defects in the patterning of the head mesenchyme. Co-injection of zebrafish beta4GalT1 mRNA returns galactosyltransferase activity to control levels and rescues the defects produced by morpholino oligonucleotides. In situ hybridizations of various molecular markers reveal that the axial mesoderm of epiboly stage embryos is abnormally widened in beta4GalT1 morphants, indicative of abnormal convergent extension. Consistent with this, the rate of anterior-posterior axis elongation is reduced relative to control-injected embryos, similar to that seen in known convergent extension mutants. Among the many potential substrates for beta4GalT1 is laminin, a principle component of the extracellular matrix that supports cell movements such as those that occur during convergent extension. Previous in vitro studies have shown that the galactosylation status of laminin directly influences its ability to support cell spreading and migration. In this regard, laminin isolated from beta4GalT1 morphant embryos is poorly galactosylated, which may contribute to defective cell migration during convergent extension movements. This work demonstrates that zebrafish can be used to identify critical developmental roles for specific glycosyltransferases that would not be obvious otherwise, such as an absolute requirement for beta4GalT1 during convergent extension movements.