Stable myogenic cell lines have been derived at a high frequency by transfection of a cloned multipotential mouse embryo cell line, C3H 10T1/2, with cloned human DNA linked to a selectable neomycin resistance gene. The myogenic phenotype remains linked to neomycin resistance during secondary transfections. Although proliferative in growth conditions, these cell lines maintain the ability to differentiate and express muscle-specific proteins. We conclude that there is a simple genetic basis for myogenic determination and that a single gene, myd, converts 10T1/2 cells to a myoblast lineage. Southern blot analysis demonstrates nonidentity of myd and the MyoD1 gene. Northern blot analysis shows that myd-transfected myogenic lineages express MyoD1 mRNA while parental 10T1/2 cells do not. These results suggest that a dependent regulatory gene pathway mediates myogenic determination and differentiation.