The formation of branchiomeric nerves (cranial nerves V, VII, IX and X) from their sensory, motor and glial components is poorly understood. The current model for cranial nerve formation is based on the Vth nerve, in which sensory afferents are formed first and must enter the hindbrain in order for the motor efferents to exit. Using transgenic zebrafish lines to discriminate between motor neurons, sensory neurons and peripheral glia, we show that this model does not apply to the remaining three branchiomeric nerves. For these nerves, the motor efferents form prior to the sensory afferents, and their pathfinding show no dependence on sensory axons, as ablation of cranial sensory neurons by ngn1 knockdown had no effect. In contrast, the sensory limbs of the IXth and Xth nerves (but not the Vth or VIIth) were misrouted in gli1 mutants, which lack hindbrain bmn, suggesting that the motor efferents are crucial for appropriate sensory axon projection in some branchiomeric nerves. For all four nerves, peripheral glia were the intermediate component added and had a critical role in nerve integrity but not in axon guidance, as foxd3 null mutants lacking peripheral glia exhibited defasciculation of gVII, gIX, and gX axons. The bmn efferents were unaffected in these mutants. These data demonstrate that multiple mechanisms underlie formation of the four branchiomeric nerves. For the Vth, sensory axons initiate nerve formation, for the VIIth the sensory and motor limbs are independent, and for the IXth/Xth motor axons initiate formation. In all cases the glia are patterned by the initiating set of axons and are needed to maintain axon fasciculation. These results reveal that coordinated interactions between the three neural cell types in branchiomeric nerves differ according to their axial position.