The superior rectus muscles of marlin, swordfish, sailfish, and spearfish are modified for generating heat rather than force. This study focuses on the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium-adenosinetriphosphatase (SR Ca(2+)-ATPase) to gain further insight into the muscle fiber type origin of the billfish "heater cell." Direct sequencing and immunolocalization demonstrated that marlin and swordfish epaxial swimming muscles express two forms of the SR Ca(2+)-ATPase in a fiber type-specific manner; red slow-twitch skeletal and cardiac muscles express the same SERCA2 message, whereas white fast-twitch skeletal muscles express a SERCA1 message. Thus the expression pattern of the SR Ca2+ pump is similar in both billfish and tetrapod muscles. Molecular and immunological studies revealed that billfish heater tissue and superior rectus muscle express both fast and slow SR Ca2+ pump isoforms. Immunohistochemical results suggest that heater cells and most extraocular muscle fibers express the fast SR Ca2+ pump. Expression of the fast SR Ca(2+)-ATPase by heater cells has implications for heater cell origin and thermogenic control.