Previous cross-linking studies [Kim E, Bobkova E, Hegyi G, Muhlrad A & Reisler E (2002) Biochemistry41, 86–93] have shown that site-specific cross-linking among F-actin monomers inhibits the motion and force generation of actomyosin. However, it does not change the steady-state ATPase parameters of actomyosin. These apparently contradictory findings have been attributed to the uncoupling of force generation from other processes of actomyosin interaction as a consequence of reduced flexibility at the interface between actin subdomains-1 and -2. In this study, we use EPR spectroscopy to investigate the effects of cross-linking constituent monomers upon the molecular dynamics of the F-actin complex. We show that cross-linking reduces the rotational mobility of an attached probe. It is consistent with the filaments becoming more rigid. Addition of heavy meromyosin (HMM) to the cross-linked filaments further restricts the rotational mobility of the probe. The effect of HMM on the actin filaments is highly cooperative: even a 1: 10 molar ratio of HMM to actin strongly restricts the dynamics of the filaments. More interesting results are obtained when nucleotides are also added. In the presence of HMM and ADP, similar strongly reduced mobility of the probe was found than in a rigor state. In the presence of adenosine 5′[βγ-imido] triphosphate (AMPPNP), a nonhydrolyzable analogue of ATP, weak binding of HMM to either cross-linked or native F-actin increases probe mobility. By contrast, weak binding by the HMM/ADP/AlF4 complex has different effects upon the two systems. This protein–nucleotide complex increases probe mobility in native actin filaments, as does HMM + AMPPNP. However, its addition to cross-linked filaments leaves probe mobility as constrained as in the rigor state. These findings suggest that the dynamic change upon weak binding by HMM/ADP/AlF4 which is inhibited by cross-linking is essential to the proper mechanical behaviour of the filaments during movement.