In vertebrates, the paraxial mesoderm corresponds to the bilateral strips of mesodermal tissue flanking the notochord and neural tube and which are delimited laterally by the intermediate mesoderm and the lateral plate. The paraxial mesoderm comprises the head or cephalic mesoderm anteriorly and the somitic region throughout the trunk and the tail of the vertebrates. Soon after gastrulation, the somitic region of vertebrates starts to become segmented into paired blocks of mesoderm, termed somites. This process lasts until the number of somites characteristic of the species is reached. The somites later give rise to all skeletal muscles of the body, the axial skeleton, and part of the dermis. In this review I discuss the processes involved in the formation of the paraxial mesoderm and its segmentation into somites in vertebrates.