The aims of the present study are to determine whether triiodothyronine (T3) and/or thyroxine (T4) in tilapia larvae is gifted through the mother, and to investigate the change profiles of thyrotropin (TSH), thyroid follicular cells and type I deiodinase (D1) gene expression following larval development. T3 and T4 contents were measured using radioimmunoassay, thyrotropin was observed using immunocytochemistry, and the D1 gene was cloned and measured using real-time PCR. Results indicated that the β-TSH-immunoreactive cells (thyrotropin ICC) signals were detected at 9 dph (i.e., 9 days of post-hatching). Thyroid follicular cells were observed first at 3 dph, while the T3 contents of the whole body gradually decreased before 11 dph. T4 contents were detected until 13 dph, with higher secretion during 19-21 dph. In addition, the T3 synthesis was not inhibited by thiourea (TU) before 13 dph, but the TU response in the larvae appeared after 13 dph. Type I deiodinase (D1: GenBank accession number KC591724) was found to contain 2444 bases and encoded 248 amino acids. The D1 mRNA expression began to increase at 13 dph, with a higher expression during 15-19 dph. These results suggested that the T3 contents were maternally derived before 13 dph. Both thyroid hormonal changes and some parameters related to thyroid hormone synthesis in ontogenetic tilapia are discussed.