Abnormalities in cranial motor nerve development cause paralytic strabismus syndromes, collectively referred to as congenital cranial dysinnervation disorders, in which patients cannot fully move their eyes. These disorders can arise through one of two mechanisms: (a) defective motor neuron specification, usually by loss of a transcription factor necessary for brainstem patterning, or (b) axon growth and guidance abnormalities of the oculomotor, trochlear, and abducens nerves. This review focuses on our current understanding of axon guidance mechanisms in the cranial motor nerves and how disease-causing mutations disrupt axon targeting. Abnormalities of axon growth and guidance are often limited to a single nerve or subdivision, even when the causative gene is ubiquitously expressed. Additionally, when one nerve is absent, its normal target muscles attract other motor neurons. Study of these disorders highlights the complexities of axon guidance and how each population of neurons uses a unique but overlapping set of axon guidance pathways.