G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (Gper, formerly known as GPR30) is found to be a trophic and protective factor in mediating action of estrogen in adult brain, while its role in developing brain remains to be elucidated. Here we present the expression pattern of Gper and its functions during embryogenesis in zebrafish. Both the mRNA and protein of Gper were detected throughout embryogenesis. Whole mount in situ hybridization (WISH) revealed a wide distribution of gper mRNAs in various regions of the developing brain. gper knockdown by specific morpholinos resulted in growth retardation in embryos and morphological defects in the developing brain. In addition, induced apoptosis, decreased proliferation of the brain cells and maldevelopment of sensory and motor neurons were also found in the morphants. Our results provide novel insights into Gper function in the developing brain, revealing that Gper can maintain the survival of the brain cells, and formation and/or differentiation of the sensory and motor neurons.