The posterior lateral line (PLL) of zebrafish comprises seven to eight sense organs at the end of embryogenesis, arranged in a single antero-posterior line that extends along the horizontal myoseptum from the ear to the tip of the tail. At the end of larval life, four antero-posterior lines extend on the trunk and tail, comprising together around 60 sense organs. The embryonic pattern is largely conserved among teleosts, although adult patterns are very diverse. Here we describe the transition from embryonic to juvenile pattern in the zebrafish, to provide a framework for understanding how the diversity of adult patterns comes about. We show that the four lines that extend over the adult body originate from latent precursors laid down by migrating primordia that arise during embryogenesis. We conclude that, in zebrafish, the entire development of the PLL system up to adulthood can be traced back to events that took place during the first 2 days of life. We also show that the transition from embryonic to adult pattern involves few distinct operations, suggesting that the diversity of patterns among adult teleosts may be due to differential control of these few operations acting upon common embryonic precursors.