Mechanical properties of the jaw-closing muscles of the cat are poorly understood. These muscles are known to differ in myosin and fibre type compositions from limb muscles. This work aims to correlate mechanical properties of single fibres in cat jaw and limb muscles with their myosin subunit compositions. The stiffness minimum frequency, fmin, which reflects isometric cross-bridge kinetics, was measured in Ca2+- activated glycerinated fast and slow fibres from cat jaw and limb muscles for temperatures ranging between 15 and 30°C by mechanical perturbation analysis. At 15°C, fmin was 0.5 Hz for limb-slow fibres, 4-6 Hz for jaw-slow fibres, and 10-13 Hz for limb-fast and jaw-fast fibres. The activation energy for fmin obtained from the slope of the Arrhenius plot for limb-slow fibres was 30-40% higher than values for the other three types of fibres. SDS-PAGE and western blotting using highly specific antibodies verified that limb-fast fibres contained IIA or IIX myosin heavy chain (MyHC). Jaw-fast fibres expressed masticatory MyHC while both jaw-fast and jaw-slow fibres expressed masticatory myosin light chains (MLCs). The nucleotide sequences of the 3′ ends of the slow MyHC cDNAs isolated from cat masseter and soleus cDNA libraries showed identical coding and 3′-untranslated regions, suggesting that jaw-slow and limb-slow fibres express the same slow MyHC gene. We conclude that the isometric cross-bridge cycling kinetics of jaw-fast and limb-fast fibres detected by fmin are indistinguishable in spite of differences in MyHC and light chain compositions. However, jaw-slow fibres, in which the same slow MyHCs are found in combination with MLCs of the jaw type, show enhanced cross-bridge cycling kinetics and reduced activation energy for cross-bridge detachment.