The non-bilaterian animals comprise organisms in the phyla Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenophora and Placozoa. These early-diverging phyla are pivotal to understanding the evolution of bilaterian animals. After the exponential increase in research in evolutionary development (evo-devo) in the last two decades, these organisms are again in the spotlight of evolutionary biology. In this work, I briefly review some aspects of the developmental biology of nonbilaterians that contribute to understanding the evolution of development and of the metazoans. The evolution of the developmental genetic toolkit, embryonic polarization, the origin of gastrulation and mesodermal cells, and the origin of neural cells are discussed. The possibility that germline and stem cell lineages have the same origin is also examined. Although a considerable number of non-bilaterian species are already being investigated, the use of species belonging to different branches of non-bilaterian lineages and functional experimentation with gene manipulation in the majority of the non-bilaterian lineages will be necessary for further progress in this field.