During development segmentation is a process that generates a spatial periodic pattern. Peak splitting of waves of gene expression is a mathematically predicted, simple strategy accounting for this type of process, but it has not been well characterized biologically. Here we show temporally repeated splitting of gene expression into stripes that is associated with head axis growth in the spider Achaearanea embryo. Preceding segmentation, a wave of hedgehog homologue gene expression is observed to travel posteriorly during development stage 6. This stripe, co-expressing an orthodenticle homologue, undergoes two cycles of splitting and shifting accompanied by convergent extension, serving as a generative zone for the head segments. The two orthodenticle and odd-paired homologues are identified as targets of Hedgehog signalling, and evidence suggests that their activities mediate feedback to maintain the head generative zone and to promote stripe splitting in this zone. We propose that the 'stripe-splitting' strategy employs genetic components shared with Drosophila blastoderm subdivision, which are required for participation in an autoregulatory signalling network.