Embryonic organs attain their final dimensions through the generation of proper cell number and size, but the control mechanisms remain obscure. Here, we establish Gridlock (Grl), a Hairy-related basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, as a negative regulator of cardiomyocyte proliferative growth in zebrafish embryos. Mutations in grl cause an increase in expression of a group of immediate-early growth genes, myocardial genes, and development of hyperplastic hearts. Conversely, cardiomyocytes with augmented Grl activity have diminished cell volume and fail to divide, resulting in a marked reduction in heart size. Both bHLH domain and carboxyl region are required for Grl negative control of myocardial proliferative growth. These Grl-induced cardiac effects are counterbalanced by the transcriptional activator Gata5 but not Gata4, which promotes cardiomyocyte expansion in the embryo. Biochemical analyses show that Grl forms a complex with Gata5 through the carboxyl region and can repress Gata5-mediated transcription via the bHLH domain. Hence, our studies suggest that Grl regulates embryonic heart growth via opposing Gata5, at least in part through their protein interactions in modulating gene expression.