Teleost fish, which roughly make up half of the extant vertebrate species, exhibit an amazing level of biodiversity affecting their morphology, ecology and behaviour as well as many other aspects of their biology. This huge variability makes fish extremely attractive for the study of many biological questions, particularly of those related to evolution. New insights gained from different teleost species and sequencing projects have recently revealed several peculiar features of fish genomes that might have played a role in fish evolution and speciation. There is now substantial evidence that a round of tetraploidization/rediploidization has taken place during the early evolution of the ray-finned fish lineage, and that hundreds of duplicate pairs generated by this event have been maintained over hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Differential loss or subfunction partitioning of such gene duplicates might have been involved in the generation of fish variability. In contrast to mammalian genomes, teleost genomes also contain multiple families of active transposable elements, which might have played a role in speciation by affecting hybrid sterility and viability. Finally, the amazing diversity of sex determination systems and the plasticity of sex chromosomes observed in teleost might have been involved in both pre- and postmating reproductive isolation. Comparison of data generated by current and future genome projects as well as complementary studies in other species will allow one to approach the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms underlying genome diversity in fish, and will certainly significantly contribute to our understanding of gene evolution and function in humans and other vertebrates.