Chick embryonic heart cell isolates and monolayer cultures were prepared from atria and ventricles at selected stages of cardiac development. The cardiac myocytes were assayed for myosin heavy chain (MHC) content using monoclonal antibodies (McAbs) specific in the heart for atrial (B-1), ventricular (ALD-19), or conductive system (ALD-58) isoforms. Using immunofluorescence microscopy or radioimmunoassay, MHC accumulation was measured before plating and at 48 hr or 7 days in culture. Reproducible changes in MHC antigenicity were observed by 7 days in both atrial and ventricular cultures. The changes were stage dependent and tissue specific but generally resulted in a decreased reactivity with the tissue specific MHC McAbs. In addition, the isoform recognized by ALD-58, characteristic of the conductive system cells in vivo, was never present in cultured myocytes. These results indicate that MHC isoforms produced in vivo may be replaced in monolayer cultures by an isoform(s) not recognized by our tissue specific MHC McAbs. This suggests that the intrinsic program of cardiac myogenesis, within cardiac myocytes, may not be sufficient to establish and maintain differential expression of tissue specific MHC in monolayer cell culture.