There are increasing calls to incorporate developmental plasticity into the framework of eco-evolutionary dynamics. The current way is via genotype-specified reaction norms in which inheritance and phenotype expression are gene-based. I propose a developmental system perspective in which phenotypes are formed during individual development in a process comprising a complex set of interactions that involve genes, biochemistry, somatic state, and the (a)biotic environment, and where the developmental system is the unit of phenotype evolution. I explain how the two perspectives differ in assumptions and predictions, which can be contrasted using cue-and-response systems of anticipatory or mitigating developmental plasticity. This can lead to new ways of eco-evolutionary thinking, and deliver important explanations of how populations respond to environmental change through evolved developmental plasticity.