A combination of standard histochemical techniques and immunohistochemical staining using myosin type-specific antisera was used to determine the fibre-type composition of the muscles of first branchial arch origin (that is, masseter, temporalis, pterygoideus medialis and lateralis, tensor veli palatini, tensor tympani, anterior digastricus and mylohyoideus) in a wide range of the Carnivora and the Primates. The rare IIM fibre type was found in the first branchial arch muscles of most of the species examined, but never in the limb muscles used as controls for this study. The jaw-closer muscles (masseter, temporalis and pterygoideus medialis) were found to contain IIM fibres in all the Carnivora except the lesser panda and in all the Primates except man. When present, the IIM fibres were usually the predominant fibre type, and the only other fibre types present were types I, II or IIC. The presence of IIM fibres in the jaw-closer muscles of most of the Carnivora and the Primates seems to be associated with an aggressive bite which is required for predation by the former and defence by the latter. In both groups of species there was the member which does not have an aggressive bite, the lesser panda and man, respectively, and these (like all other orders of mammals such as Lagomorpha, Rodentia, etc.) were found to have no IIM fibres in the jaw-closer muscles. The two muscles of the first branchial arch group which are derived from the ventral constrictor muscles of the (phylogenetically) original mandibular arch never contained IIM fibres, and were composed of type I and II fibres similar to those found in the control muscles of the limb. Tensor veli palatini and tensor tympani showed species-dependent variations in fibre-type composition and did not always reflect the composition of the jaw-closer muscles. Thus their common origin with the jaw-closers cannot be responsible for the occurrence of IIM fibres in tensor veli palatini and tensor tympani in some species. Furthermore, in tensor tympani but not in tensor veli palatini, the presence of IIM fibres was always accompanied by immunohistochemically slow-tonic fibres. Finally, the regard to the association of oxidative activity with the fibre type as defined by the myofibrillar ATPase method and by the isoform of myosin present, we suggest that in the first branchial arch muscles this is probably not directly comparable to the situation in the typical limb muscle.