Mechanical loading and α-adrenergic receptor stimulation have both been shown to induce hypertrophy in isolated neonatal heart cells. The present study examined the effects of adrenergic hormones and contractile activity on the hypertrophic response in isolated adult feline cardiomyocytes maintained for more than 14 days in insulin- and serum-supplemented medium. Measurements of the hypertrophic response included cell size, total protein content, myosin heavy chain content, and the time course of activation of increased protein synthesis. Reactivation of the “fetal” gene program was evaluated by secretion of atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) into the medium. Significant myocyte hypertrophy was induced in both quiescent myocytes treated with α1-adrenergic agonists and in beating myocytes treated with α-adrenergic agonists. However, there were both quantitative and qualitative differences in the response to each type of stimulation. α-Adrenergic agonists promoted an increase in cell size, protein content, and ANF secretion but not myofibrillar reorganization, which was observed only in beating myocytes. In contrast to results reported for neonatal heart cells, determinants of hypertrophy in beating myocytes exceeded those in nonbeating αl-adrenergic agonist-treated heart cells in every parameter examined. In addition, in the case of both beating and α-adrenergic stimulation, there were marked time-dependent variations in rates of protein synthesis over the interval of 4 hours to 7 days of treatment with each type of stimulus. Differences were also encountered in correlations between rates of protein synthesis and protein accumulation over this interval. The effect of beating was particularly important both to the reorganization of myofibrillar structure and the metabolism of myosin heavy chain. In cultures in which beating was inhibited with the calcium channel antagonist nifedipine, the loss of myosin heavy chain was significantly greater than that of total protein.