Wrasses are abundant reef fishes and the second most speciose marine fish family, yet little is known of their larval swimming abilities. In August 2010 at Moorea, Society Islands, we measured swimming ability (critical speed, Ucrit) of 80 settlement-stage larvae (11–17 m) of 5 labrid species (Thalassoma quinquevittatum [n = 67], Novaculichthys taeniourus [n = 6], Coris aygula [n = 5], Halichoeres trimaculatus [n = 1] and H. hortulanus [n = 1]) and 33 new recruits of T. quinquevittatum. Median (mdn) larval Ucrit was 7.6–12.5 cm s-1. In T. quinquevittatum (n = 67), larvae of 12.5–14.5 mm swam faster (mdn 16.9 cm s-1) than smaller or larger larvae (mdn 3.9 and 3.2 cm s-1, respectively). Labrid larvae Ucrit is similar to that of other similar-sized tropical larvae, so labrids and species with comparable settlement sizes should have similar abilities to influence dispersal. Ucrit of T. quinquevittatum recruits decreased to 47–56% of larval Ucrit in 2 days, implying rapid physiological changes at settlement.