CMF1 is a protein expressed in embryonic striated muscle with onset of expression preceding that of contractile proteins. Disruption of CMF1 in myoblasts disrupts muscle-specific protein expression. Preliminary studies indicate both nuclear and cytoplasmic distribution of CMF1 protein, suggesting functional roles in both cellular compartments. Here we examine the nuclear function of CMF1, using a newly characterized antibody generated against the CMF1 nuclear localization domain and a CMF1 nuclear localization domain-deleted stable myocyte line. The antibody demonstrates nuclear distribution of the CMF1 protein both in vivo and in cell lines, with clustering of CMF1 protein around chromatin during mitosis. In more differentiated myocytes, the protein shifts to the cytoplasm. The CMF1 NLS-deleted cell lines have markedly impaired capacity to differentiate. Specifically, these cells express less contractile protein than wild-type or full-length CMF1 stably transfected cells, and do not fuse properly into multinucleate syncytia with linear nuclear alignment. In response to low serum medium, a signal to differentiate, CMF1 NLS-deleted cells enter G0, but continue to express proliferation markers and will reenter the cell cycle when stimulated by restoring growth medium. These data suggest that CMF1 is involved in regulation the transition from proliferation to differentiation in embryonic muscle.