Abstract Taurine (TAU) is an amino sulfonic acid that plays protective roles against neurochemical impairments induced by ethanol (EtOH). Mounting evidence shows the applicability of zebrafish for evaluating locomotor parameters and anxiety-like behavioral phenotypes after EtOH exposure in a large scale manner. In this study, we assess the effects of TAU pretreatment on the behavior of zebrafish in the open tank after acute 1% EtOH (v/v) exposure (20 and 60 min of duration) and on brain alcohol contents. The exposure for 20 min exerted significant anxiolytic effects, which were prevented by 42, 150, and 400 mg/L TAU. Conversely, the 60-min condition induced depressant/sedative effects, in which the changes on vertical activity were associated to modifications on the exploratory profile. Although all TAU concentrations kept locomotor parameters at basal levels, 150 mg/L TAU, did not prevent the impairment on vertical activity of EtOH. Despite the higher brain EtOH content detected in the 60-min exposure, 42, 150, and 400 mg/L TAU attenuated the increase of alcohol content in EtOH group. In conclusion, our data suggest that both protocols of acute EtOH exposure induce significant changes in the spatio-temporal behavior of zebrafish and that TAU may exert a preventive role by antagonizing the effects induced by EtOH possibly due to its neuromodulatory role and also by decreasing brain EtOH levels. The hormetic dose-response of TAU on vertical exploration suggests a complex interaction between TAU and EtOH in the central nervous system.