Development of the pancreas and cerebellum require Pancreas-specific transcription factor-1a (Ptf1a), which encodes a subunit of the transcription factor complex PTF1. Ptf1a is required in succession for specification of the pancreas, proper allocation of pancreatic progenitors to endocrine and exocrine fates, and the production of digestive enzymes from the exocrine acini. In several neuronal structures, including the cerebellum, hindbrain, retina and spinal cord, Ptf1a is transiently expressed and promotes inhibitory neuron fates at the expense of excitatory fates. Transcription of Ptf1a in mouse is maintained in part by PTF1 acting on an upstream autoregulatory enhancer. However, the transcription factors and enhancers that initially activate Ptf1a expression in the pancreas and in certain structures of the nervous system have not yet been identified. Here we describe a zebrafish autoregulatory element, conserved among teleosts, with activity similar to that described in mouse. In addition, we performed a comprehensive survey of all non-coding sequences in a 67 kb interval encompassing zebrafish ptf1a, and identified several neuronal enhancers, and an enhancer active in the ventral pancreas prior to activation of the autoregulatory enhancer. To test the requirement for autoregulatory control during pancreatic development, we restored ptf1a function through BAC transgenesis in ptf1a morphants, either with an intact BAC or one lacking the autoregulatory enhancer. We find that ptf1a autoregulation is required for development of the exocrine pancreas and full rescue of the ptf1a morphant phenotype. Similarly, we demonstrate that a ptf1a locus lacking the early enhancer region is also capable of rescue, but only supports formation of a hypoplastic exocrine pancreas. Through our dissection of the complex regulatory control of ptf1a, we identified separate cis-regulatory elements that underlie different aspects of its expression and function, and further demonstrated the requirement of maintained ptf1a expression for normal pancreatic morphogenesis. We also identified a novel enhancer that mediates initiation of ptf1a expression in the pancreas, through which the signals that specify the ventral pancreas are expected to exert their action.