Embryonic chick myoblasts possess an extensive network of cytoplasmic microtubules which emanate from a single, perinuclear centrosome containing a microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) and the centrioles. However, after myoblasts fuse into myotubes the centrosome is no longer apparent, and instead long parallel arrays of microtubules are seen. From ultrastructural studies on developing muscle tissue, it has been proposed that centrioles are present in myoblasts but are absent from fused muscle fibers. We have examined this hypothesis in vitro in cultures of chick embryonic muscle cells using sera which specifically label centrioles. Almost all (90-97%) mononucleated cells in these cultures, including myoblasts aligned just prior to fusion, contain a pair of centrioles in close proximity to the nucleus. However, in newly fused multinucleated myotubes as well as in older myotubes that had developed myofibrils, centrioles were rarely found (1-10% positive cells). This study thus provides direct evidence for a loss of centrioles from muscle cells soon after they fuse to form myotubes.