Summary Pair-rule patterning forms a key step for segmentation in insects. The expression patterns of pair-rule gene orthologs in representatives of other arthropod groups imply that these genes were segmentation genes in the last common ancestor of the various arthropod groups, but almost nothing is known about the underlying mechanism in noninsect arthropods. Here, we cloned and analyzed members of the Pax group III genes from the spider Cupiennius salei. Pax group III genes comprise genes like the Drosophila genes paired, gooseberry, and gooseberry-neuro, as well as the vertebrate Pax 3 and Pax 7 genes. We recovered three Pax group III genes from the spider C. salei, Cs-pairberry-1, Cs-pairberry-2, and Cs-pairberry-3, and show that the combined expression of the three spider genes mimics the patterns in insects, suggesting an ancestral role for Pax group III genes in segmentation, neurogenesis, and appendage formation in arthropods. One of the genes, pairberry-3, is expressed in a segmental periodicity before overt morphological segmentation is visible, suggesting a single segmental periodicity for opisthosomal segment pattering in the spider. Comparisons among arthropods suggest that the underlying mechanisms for pair-rule gene orthologs are more diverged than the ones for the segment-polarity genes. We argue that there may be a correlation between the lower variation in patterns of segment-polarity genes and the phylotypic stage. The segment-polarity genes are required to define the segment borders of the embryo at the germ-band stage, the arthropod phylotypic stage. Pair-rule gene orthologs act more upstream and may display more variation in their action.