Environmental influences are known to produce segmental defects in a variety of organisms. In this paper we report upon segmental aberrations produced by brief heat shocks delivered to developing zebrafish embryos. The initial defects in the segmental pattern of somitic boundaries and motoneuron axon outgrowth were usually observed five somites caudal to the somite which was forming at the time of heat shock application. Segmental defects in zebrafish embryos exposed to a single heat shock treatment can occur in a periodic pattern similar to the multiple disturbances observed to occur in chick embryos. These data are discussed with regard to models involving cell cycle synchrony or 'clock and wavefront' schemes in the process of somitogenesis.