Tension development and relaxation in cardiac muscle are regulated at the thin filament via Ca(2+) binding to cardiac troponin C (cTnC) and strong cross-bridge binding. However, the influence of cTnC Ca(2+)-binding properties on these processes in the organized structure of cardiac sarcomeres is not well-understood and likely differs from skeletal muscle. To study this we generated single amino acid variants of cTnC with altered Ca(2+) dissociation rates (k(off)), as measured in whole troponin (cTn) complex by stopped-flow spectroscopy (I61Q cTn>WT cTn>L48Q cTn), and exchanged them into cardiac myofibrils and demembranated trabeculae. In myofibrils at saturating Ca(2+), L48Q cTnC did not affect maximum tension (T(max)), thin filament activation (k(ACT)) and tension development (k(TR)) rates, or the rates of relaxation, but increased duration of slow phase relaxation. In contrast, I61Q cTnC reduced T(max), k(ACT) and k(TR) by 40-65% with little change in relaxation. Interestingly, k(ACT) was less than k(TR) with I61Q cTnC, and this difference increased with addition of inorganic phosphate, suggesting that reduced cTnC Ca(2+)-affinity can limit thin filament activation kinetics. Trabeculae exchanged with I61Q cTn had reduced T(max), Ca(2+) sensitivity of tension (pCa(50)), and slope (n(H)) of tension-pCa, while L48Q cTn increased pCa(50) and reduced n(H). Increased cross-bridge cycling with 2-deoxy-ATP increased pCa(50) with WT or L48Q cTn, but not I61Q cTn. We discuss the implications of these results for understanding the role of cTn Ca(2+)-binding properties on the magnitude and rate of tension development and relaxation in cardiac muscle.