Somitogenesis, the process by which a bilaterally symmetric pattern of cell aggregations is laid down in a cranio-caudal sequence in early vertebrate development, provides an excellent model study for the coupling of interactions at the molecular and cellular level. Here, we review some of the key experimental results and theoretical models related to this process. We extend a recent chemical pre-pattern model based on the cell cycle Journal of Theoretical Biology 207 (2000) 305-316, by including cell movement and show that the resultant model exhibits the correct spatio-temporal dynamics of cell aggregation. We also postulate a model to account for the recently observed spatio-temporal dynamics at the molecular level. (C) 2002 Academie des Sciences/Editions scientifiques et medicales Elsevier SAS.