Young & Davey (1981) (Biochem. J. 195, 317-327) identified numbers of polymorphs of myofibrillar proteins by sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of single muscle fibres isolated from three bovine muscles. Fibres were classed according to the distribution of polymorphs. The study has now been extended to eight diverse bovine muscles. The previous distinction made between fast and slow fibres is valid without exception in the extended study. Within these classes, variations in myofibrillar expression are examined within and between fibres, muscles and animals. Two slow muscles are contrasted; masseter is homogeneous in fibre type, whereas diaphragm is subtly heterogeneous, possibly arising from greater physiological demands. Of the myofibrillar polymorphs, attention is concentrated on two variants of fast-muscle myosin heavy chain. Both are present in all fast and mixed muscles examined, except sternomandibularis, and each is respectively associated with certain unidentified proteins. Within a muscle the fast-muscle myosin light-chain expression is the same irrespective of the heavy-chain variant. Histochemical techniques demonstrated that the variants are respectively associated with types IIA and IIB as defined by other investigators.

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