We used purified polyclonal antibodies to human cytoplasmic myosin-IIA and myosin-IIB directly labeled with fluorescent dyes to localize these myosin-II isozymes in HeLa cells, melanoma cells and blood cells. Both antibodies react strongly with myosin-II isozymes in HeLa cells, melanoma cells and blood eosinophils, but only anti-myosin-IIA antibodies stain platelets, lymphocytes, neutrophils and monocytes in smears of human blood. Both antibodies stain small spots along the stress fibers of interphase HeLa cells and melanoma cells, but double staining revealed that the detailed distributions of myosin-IIA and myosin-IIB differ. A low concentration of diffuse myosin-IIB is present in the cortex, both in lamellar regions around the periphery of the cell and over the free surface. Myosin-IIB is also concentrated in spots along perinuclear stress fibers. Myosin-IIA is absent from the cortex but is concentrated in spots along stress fibers located near the basal surface of cultured cells. This population of peripheral stress fibers is highly enriched in myosin-IIA relative to myosin-IIB, but both are found together in centrally located stress fibers. In prophase and metaphase both isozymes are concentrated in the cortex in small spots less than 04.micron in size, similar to those in stress fibers. As the chromosomes begin the separate at anaphase, most of the myosin-II spots become concentrated in the outer 0.7 micron of the equatorial cortex in 100% of cells. This concentration of myosin-II isozymes in the cleavage furrow is maintained until the daughter cells separate. The superimposition of these small spots concentrated in the cleavage furrow produces the intense, uniform staining observed in conventional micrographs of whole cells.