We report the identification and cloning of a unique chick myosin heavy chain (CMHC1) that is expressed exclusively in the heart during embryogenesis. Using primers specific to myosin heavy chains, we used reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction to clone and isolate CMHC1 from embryonic day 10 chicken heart RNA. Sequence analysis indicated that CMHC1 was a novel member of the myosin heavy chain family. Expression of the CMHC1 transcripts was detected in Hamburger Hamilton stage 10 chick embryos in the fusing myocardium. Expression of CMHC1 was maintained at high levels throughout the tubular heart of later stage embryos. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridizations failed to detect CMHC1 transcripts in the developing somites, limb buds, or skeletal musculature at any stage of chick development. Genomic CMHC1 clones have been isolated that contain sequences approximately 5.2 kilobase upstream of the presumptive CMHC1 transcription start site. Portions of the upstream regulatory region induced a 21-fold increase in reporter gene expression in primary cardiomyocytes. Because of its unique cardiac-restricted expression, CMHC1 will provide an excellent model system to study the molecular mechanisms required for the early developmental regulation of heart-specific genes.