When rabbit ventricular myocytes were cultured for 1 wk and then exposed to alpha- and/or beta-adrenergic agonists, such nonbeating heart cell preparations disclosed increased protein-to-DNA ratios and elevated RNA content, indicative of cellular hypertrophy. Norepinephrine, isoproterenol, and phenylephrine provoked hypertrophy with norepinephrine eliciting a greater response than isoproterenol or phenylephrine. Specific alpha- and beta-antagonists blocked growth by inhibiting catecholamine-induced changes in protein turnover. Each catecholamine enhanced the fractional rate of protein synthesis within 48 h; however, changes in growth rates appeared to be modulated, in part, by alterations in protein degradation. Even though rates of total protein and actin synthesis resembled values measured in vivo, myosin heavy chain fractional rate of synthesis was only 22% of in vivo levels. Double label immunofluorescence microscopy further illustrated that catecholamine treatment accelerated myofibrillar disruption in these quiescent heart cells. These observations suggested that in the absence of beating, neurohumoral modulation of contractile protein turnover was not associated with the maintenance of myofibrillar integrity even though catecholamines induced cellular hypertrophy.