NOTCH1 pathway activation contributes to the pathogenesis of over 60% of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). While Notch is thought to exert the majority of its effects through transcriptional activation of Myc, it also likely has independent roles in T-ALL malignancy. Here, we utilized a zebrafish transgenic model of T-ALL, where Notch does not induce Myc transcription, to identify a novel Notch gene expression signature that is also found in human T-ALL and is regulated independently of Myc. Cross-species microarray comparisons between zebrafish and mammalian disease identified a common T-ALL gene signature, suggesting that conserved genetic pathways underlie T-ALL development. Functionally, Notch expression induced a significant expansion of pre-leukemic clones; however, a majority of these clones were not fully transformed and could not induce leukemia when transplanted into recipient animals. Limiting-dilution cell transplantation revealed that Notch signaling does not increase the overall frequency of leukemia-propagating cells (LPCs), either alone or in collaboration with Myc. Taken together, these data indicate that a primary role of Notch signaling in T-ALL is to expand a population of pre-malignant thymocytes, of which a subset acquire the necessary mutations to become fully transformed LPCs.