In 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union Pavlo enlisted the Red Army as a volunteer. He participated in the Battle of Kiev and was severely wounded. He was the editor-in-chief of Literaturna Ukrayina (1961–1962).
He was an author of short stories, novels about the war and also social and historical novels.
He is a laureate of the State Award of Ukraine (1974) and the State Award of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (1980). One of his best known novels is (1980), about the life of Anastasia Lisovska, a Ruthenian girl from Galicia who became a wife of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and played a prominent role in the sixteenth century Ottoman Empire.
On February 5, 2009 President Victor Yushchenko paid his last respects to Zahrebelnyi. Zahrebelny"s books have been translated into 23 languages.