Segmentation of the vertebrate brain is most obvious in the hindbrain, where successive segments contain repeated neuronal types. One such set of three repeated reticulospinal neurons--the Mauthner cell, MiD2cm, and MiD3cm--is thought to produce different forms of the escape response that fish use to avoid predators. We used laser ablations in larval zebrafish to test the hypothesis that these segmental hindbrain cells form a functional group. Killing all three cells eliminated short-latency, high-performance escape responses to both head- and tail-directed stimuli. Killing just the Mauthner cell affected escapes from tail-directed but not from head-directed stimuli. These results reveal the contributions of one set of reticulospinal neurons to behavior and support the idea that serially repeated hindbrain neurons form functional groups.