The emergence of avian satellite cells during development has been studied using markers that distinguish adult from fetal cells. Previous studies by us have shown that myogenic cultures from fetal (Embryonic Day 10) and adult 12-16 weeks) chicken pectoralis muscle (PM) each regulate expression of the embryonic isoform of fast myosin heavy chain (MHC) differently. In fetal cultures, embryonic MHC is coexpressed with a ventricular MHC in both myocytes (differentiated myoblasts) and myotubes. In contrast, myocytes and newly formed myotubes in adult cultures express ventricular but not embryonic MHC. In the current study, the appearance of myocytes and myotubes which express ventricular but not embryonic MHC was used to determine when adult myoblasts first emerge during avian development. By examining patterns of MHC expression in mass and clonal cultures prepared from embryonic and posthatch chicken skeletal muscle using double-label immunofluorescence with isoform-specific monoclonal antibodies, we show that a significant number of myocytes and myotubes which stain for ventricular but not embryonic MHC are first seen in cultures derived from PM during fetal development (Embryonic Day 18) and comprise the majority, if not all, of the myoblasts present at hatching and beyond. These results suggest that adult type myoblasts become dominant in late embryogenesis. We also show that satellite cell cultures derived from adult slow muscle give results similar to those of cultures derived from adult fast muscle. Cultures derived from Embryonic Day 10 hindlimb form myocytes and myotubes that coexpress ventricular and embryonic MHCs in a manner similar to cells of the Embryonic Day 10 PM. Thus, adult and fetal expression patterns of ventricular and embryonic MHCs are correlated with developmental age but not muscle fiber type.