Larval development of the Indo-west Pacific lutjanine lutjanid Macolor niger is described based on pelagic larvae (4.8–10 mm) from western Pacific plankton hauls, settlement-stage larvae (17–19 mm) from Great Barrier Reef light-trap catches and Solomon Island reef-crest net catches, and settled juveniles (26–32 mm) from the western Pacific. The larvae possess all the characteristics of lutjanids (24 myomeres; elongate dorsal spine 2 and pelvic spine; pelvic ray 1 longer than spine; postcleithral spine; extensive, large, smooth head spines; and fin-ray counts of DX,14–15, AIII,10–11, P1 17–18), and corroborate the inclusion of Macolor in the Lutjanidae. The larvae have long, weakly serrate, robust fin spines, with the serrations largely disappearing by settlement at 17–19 mm. Unique meristic values (in particular fin-ray and gill-raker counts) and distinctive colour pattern at settlement confirm the identification. Settled juvenile M. macularis (17–20 mm) from the western Pacific are similar to M. niger, but are slightly deeper bodied, with much longer elements in the pelvic fin and spiny dorsal fin. Distinctive meristics and pigment patterns separate the two species.