A novel cDNA, pCMF1, which is expressed exclusively and transiently in the myogenic cells of the differentiating chicken heart was isolated and characterized. The full-length cDNA of pCMF1 has one open reading frame encoding 1538 predicted amino acids. While computer analysis predicts the presence of specific structural motifs, the overall sequence of pCMF1 is unique. The pattern of pCMF1 gene expression during heart formation was determined by whole-mount in situ hybridization. pCMF1 is transiently expressed within the myogenic cells of the primitive heart tube from stages 9 to 18 and is not detected in the heart or any other tissue thereafter. A replication-deficient retrovirus was used to mediate pCMF1 antisense expression in cardiogenic mesoderm. These analyses determined that the presence of pCMF1 antisense sequences disrupted myosin heavy chain expression during cardiac mesoderm differentiation. pCMF1 antisense had no effect on myosin heavy chain expression in differentiated cardiac myocytes. These data suggest a potential function for pCMF1 during cardiac myogenesis.