© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Successful rearing of larval fish requires culture conditions and feeding strategies matching the ontogenetic status of larvae. This study describes the external morphology and development of organs and structures involved in the feeding process (i.e. sensorial organs, mouthparts and digestive system) from hatching until first feeding in Pacific red snapper. Hatching occurred 26 h after fertilization at 26°C and total length (TL) was 2.45 ± 0.08 mm. The larvae showed an undifferentiated eye and digestive tract. At 48 hah, TL was 3.31 ± 0.12 mm. Yolk and oil globule were still present. The mouth was still closed, but the Meckel's, quadrate, hyoid and hyomandibular cartilages were present. The retina was formed by 5 layers, and a thin layer of pigment epithelium was observed in the outer nuclear layer (ONL). At 70 hah, TL was 3.44 ± 0.22 mm. A remnant of oil globule was still present. The mouth and anus were open. At 93 hah, the number of cones in the ONL of the retina have increased and there was more pigment in the pigment epithelial layer. A joint between Meckel's and the quadrate cartilage and also a joint between the hyomandibular cartilage and the skull were present. The presence of live feed was detected in the digestive tract of these larvae. Based on these observations, the Pacific red snapper larvae is functional to start ingesting live feed between the 3rd and 4th day after hatching.