The intrinsic laryngeal muscles of mammals are functionally heterogeneous, some of these muscles (e.g. the thyroarytenoid) contract extremely rapidly, like extraocular muscle, whilst others (e.g. the cricothyroid) contract as fast as limb fast muscle. The extraordinarily rapid contraction speed of extraocular muscles is associated with a fast myosin not found in limb muscles. In this work we explored the possibility that the thyroarytenoid muscle may also express this extraocular-specific fast myosin by raising a monoclonal antibody (mab 4A6) against its heavy chain. Electrophoretic separation of native isomyosins revealed that both the extraocular and the thyroarytenoid have two similar bands migrating ahead of bands found in limb fast or cricothyroid myosins. These two bands bound mab 4A6. The thyroarytenoid muscle can be divided into two divisions, a vocalis division which is important in phonation and an external division which functions in closing the glottis. Fibres in the vocalis are heterogeneous, some stain with mab 4A6, whilst others stain with mabs against limb myosin heavy chains. Fibres in the external division stain almost homogeneous with mab 4A6. The immunohistochemical staining pattern in the cricothyroid muscle resembled that of fast limb muscle: no fibres stained with mab 4A6. Thus, the high speed of contraction of the thyroarytenoid is associated with the same myosin heavy chain found in extraocular muscles, this characteristic is presumably an evolutionary adaptation for rapid closure of the glottis to enhance airway defense mechanisms.