Vertebrate blood formation occurs in 2 spatially and temporally distinct waves, so-called primitive and definitive hematopoiesis. Although definitive hematopoiesis has been extensively studied, the development of primitive myeloid blood has received far less attention. In Xenopus, primitive myeloid cells originate in the anterior ventral blood islands, the equivalent of the mammalian yolk sac, and migrate out to colonize the embryo. Using fluorescence time-lapse video microscopy, we recorded the migratory behavior of primitive myeloid cells from their birth. We show that these cells are the first blood cells to differentiate in the embryo and that they are efficiently recruited to embryonic wounds, well before the establishment of a functional vasculature. Furthermore, we isolated spib, an ETS transcription factor, specifically expressed in primitive myeloid precursors. Using spib antisense morpholino knockdown experiments, we show that spib is required for myeloid specification, and, in its absence, primitive myeloid cells retain hemangioblast-like characteristics and fail to migrate. Thus, we conclude that spib sits at the top of the known genetic hierarchy that leads to the specification of primitive myeloid cells in amphibians. © 2008 by The American Society of Hematology.