We have identified the neurons that pioneer the major CNS axon tracts in the Drosophila embryo and determined their trajectory and fasciculation choices using serial section electron microscopy. Although Drosophila pioneer neurons make choices similar to those of their grasshopper homologs, there are interesting differences that reflect the much smaller nervous system size and the much faster rate of development characteristic of Drosophila. For example, where 2 longitudinal tracts are pioneered independently in grasshopper, only one is formed in Drosophila. This change is due to a change in fasciculation affinity of the pCC growth cone. Additionally, the intersegmental (IS) nerve is pioneered by a different neuron in Drosophila (aCC) than in the grasshopper (U1) because the smaller Drosophila CNS places the IS nerve within filopodial reach of the aCC soma, while in the grasshopper it is not. Drosophila growth cones explore a much more confined neuropil volume than do grasshopper growth cones but can also sample a larger fraction of the CNS as well. For this reason, some cell-cell recognition events critical to pathfinding in the grasshopper embryo may not be as essential in Drosophila. Nevertheless, many specific cellular affinities have been retained through the evolutionary divergence of these 2 species.