We describe recent advances in the understanding of patterning in the vertebrate post-cranial mesoderm. Specifically, we discuss the integration of local information into global level information that results in the overall coordination along the anterioposterior axis. Experiments related to the integration of the axial and appendicular musculoskeletal systems are considered, and examples of genetic interactions between these systems are outlined. We emphasize the utility of the terms primaxial and abaxial as an aid to understanding development of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system, and hypothesize that the lateral somitic frontier is a catalyst for evolutionary change. Developmental Dynamics 236:2371–2381, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.