The embryonic myotome generates both the axial musculature and the appendicular muscle of the fins and limbs. Early in embryo development the mesoderm is segmented into somites, and within these the primary myotome forms by a complex series of cellular movements and migrations. A new model of primary myotome formation in amniotes has emerged recently. The myotome also includes the muscle progenitor cells that are known to contribute to the secondary formation of the myotome. The adult myotome contains satellite cells that play an important role in adult muscle regeneration. Recent studies have shed light on how the growth and patterning of the myotome occurs. Birth Defects Research (Part C) 75:172–179, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.