Our ageing society is confronted with a dramatic increase in patients suffering from tauopathies such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and others. Typical neuropathological lesions including tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein as well as severe neuronal cell death characterize these disorders. No mechanism-based cures are available at present. Genetically modified animals are invaluable models to understand the molecular disease mechanisms and to screen for modifying compounds. We recently introduced tau-transgenic zebrafish as a novel model for tauopathies. Our model allows recapitulating key pathological features of tauopathies within an extremely short time. Moreover, life imaging of tau-dependent neuronal cell death was performed for the very first time. This demonstrated tau-dependent neuronal cell loss independent of tangle formation. Finally, we exemplified that the zebrafish frontotemporal dementia model can be used to screen for drugs that prevent abnormal tau phosphorylation and neuronal cell death.