Like his father, he was a poet, was considered a sage, and had the reputation of being a fair ruler. Only one of his poems survives: "Icuic Nezahualpilli yc tlamato huexotzinco" ("Song of Nezahualpilli during the war with Huexotzinco"). His court was a haven for astronomers, engineers, and soothsayers. During his reign, he abolished capital punishment for a number of crimes and struggled to keep the political independence of Texcoco during the increasing centralization of Aztec power in Tenochtitlán.
He married a daughter of Ahuitzotl only to later have her executed. Her public improprieties and high social status qualified her for a punishment that would not have been applicable to someone of a lower status. He was said to have taken numerous consorts and fathered 144 children.