We used an isometric muscle preparation to test the hypothesis that yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares utilize the intracellular Ca2+ storage sites of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) during routine contractions. Ryanodine (a blocker of SR Ca2+ release) reduced the force of contraction by approximately 50 % and the rates of contraction and relaxation by 60 % in yellowfin tuna atrium. High levels of adrenaline were unable to ameliorate the effects of ryanodine. We conclude that the SR is active in contributing Ca2+ to force development at physiological contraction frequencies. Further, we suggest that, by using intracellular Ca2+ cycling, the yellowfin tuna is able to increase the maximum contraction frequency of its cardiac muscle beyond that of most other fishes.