To elucidate the role of phosphorylation in regulation of intracellular distribution of myosin II, we have characterized mutant Dictyostelium cells expressing myosin II that could not be regulated by the phosphorylation on the mapped heavy chain sites, the light chain site, or both sites. Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that all three mutant myosin IIs were localized in the furrow region of dividing cells and in the tail region of migrating cells, similar to wild-type cells. Thus, regulation by phosphorylation is not required to direct myosin II toward the furrow region and the tail region in Dictyostelium. However, myosins that were deficient in heavy chain phosphorylation were distributed only in the cortical region of interphase cells, whereas some myosin IIs were present throughout the endoplasm in wild-type cells. Video microscopy showed that the rate of cell migration was significantly lower in cells that were deficient in heavy chain phosphorylation- than in light chain phosphorylation-deficient cells, myosin null cells and wild-type cells. Chemotactic behavior of cells that were deficient in heavy chain phosphorylation was also retarded. These results suggest that loss of regulation by heavy chain phosphorylation results in excessive myosin in the cortex, which leads to retarded motility.