The role of myosin in the contraction of striated muscle cells is well known, but its importance in nonmuscle cells is not yet clear. The function of myosin in Dictyostelium discoideum has been investigated by isolating cells which specifically lack myosin heavy chain (MHC A) protein. Cells were transformed with a vector encoding RNA complementary to mhcA messenger RNA (antisense RNA). Stable transformants have a dramatic reduction in the amount of MHC A protein, grow slowly, and generate giant multinucleated progeny, indicating an impairment in cytokinesis. Surprisingly, the cells adhere to surfaces, extend pseudopods and are capable of ameboid locomotion. The developmental sequence that is initiated by starving cells is severely impaired by the lack of myosin. The cells are unable to form multicellular aggregates normally and do not undergo subsequent morphogenesis. By changing the food source from liquid medium to bacteria, expression of the endogenous mhcA messenger RNA can be increased relative to expression of antisense RNA. When grown in this way, the transformed cells accumulate MHC A protein, remain mononucleate, and proceed through development normally.