Crayfish initiate walking behavior not only reflexively in response to external stimuli but also spontaneously in the absence of any specific stimulus. In order to analyze the initiation mechanism underlying these different types of walking, we made simultaneous electromyographic (EMG) recordings from thoracic legs when animals initiated walking, either reflexively or spontaneously, and video recorded their movements synchronously with the EMG recording. Two different stimuli, mechanical and chemical, were used to reflexively induce walking. A non-rhythmic, sustained activation of leg muscles was found to precede the behavioral initiation of either type of walking. The duration of this non-rhythmic muscle activation was significantly longer in the spontaneously initiated walking than in the mechanical stimulus-evoked walking, although no difference was observed between the spontaneous and chemical stimulus-evoked walking. EMG recordings from all eight legs revealed that their non-rhythmic muscle activation occurred almost simultaneously prior to initiation of rhythmical stepping movements. When an animal was suspended without a leg substratum, the timing of muscle activation was more variable among the legs than in the free condition on the substratum. When the circumesophageal commissures were both severed to eliminate signals descending from the brain to the thoracic ganglia, the bilaterally coordinated rhythmic burst activity was not observed in the walking legs. These findings suggest that the spontaneous initiation of walking behavior requires sensory feedback signals from leg proprioceptors, subserved by a different descending activation mechanism from that for stimulus-driven initiation of walking.