Pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes are currently being investigated for in vitro human heart models and as potential therapeutics for heart failure. In this study, we have developed a differentiation protocol that minimizes the need for specific human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line optimization. We first reduced the heterogeneity that exists within the starting population of bulk cultured hESCs by using cells adapted to single-cell passaging in a 2-dimensional (2D) culture format. Compared with bulk cultures, single-cell cultures comprised larger fractions of TG30(hi)/OCT4(hi) cells, corresponding to an increased expression of pluripotency markers OCT4 and NANOG, and reduced expression of early lineage-specific markers. A 2D temporal differentiation protocol was then developed, aimed at reducing the inherent heterogeneity and variability of embryoid body-based protocols, with induction of primitive streak cells using bone morphogenetic protein 4 and activin A, followed by cardiogenesis via inhibition of Wnt signaling using the small molecules IWP-4 or IWR-1. IWP-4 treatment resulted in a large percentage of cells expressing low amounts of cardiac myosin heavy chain and expression of early cardiac progenitor markers ISL1 and NKX2-5, thus indicating the production of large numbers of immature cardiomyocytes (~65,000/cm(2) or ~1.5 per input hESC). This protocol was shown to be effective in HES3, H9, and, to a lesser, extent, MEL1 hESC lines. In addition, we observed that IWR-1 induced predominantly atrial myosin light chain (MLC2a) expression, whereas IWP-4 induced expression of both atrial (MLC2a) and ventricular (MLC2v) forms. The intrinsic flexibility and scalability of this 2D protocol mean that the output population of primitive cardiomyocytes will be particularly accessible and useful for the investigation of molecular mechanisms driving terminal cardiomyocyte differentiation, and potentially for the future treatment of heart failure.