The lateral line is composed of mechanoreceptors, the neuromasts, which are distributed over the body surfaces of fish. We examine the development of neuromast patterns on the caudal fins of medaka and zebrafish. In medaka, the terminal neuromast is established just prior to the caudal fin formation. The terminal neuromast subsequently gives rise to a cluster of accessory neuromasts. In zebrafish, the terminal neuromasts vary in terms of both number and position, and they achieve their final positions relative to the caudal fin structures through migration. Subsequently, they give rise to four lines of accessory neuromasts that extend along the caudal fin. We show that developmental processes similar to those observed in medaka and zebrafish may account for a large variety of patterns in other teleost species. These results establish terminal neuromast patterning as a new model for the study of the developmental mechanisms underlying diverse lateral line patterns.