Tissue-cultured neonatal cardiomyocytes can be successfully maintained in culture on a variety of extracellular matrix components such as laminin, fibronectin, and interstitial collagens (Types I and III).In vivo, however, cardiomyocytes (as well as many other cells) exist in a highly complex extracellular matrix environment composed of, in addition to the above three components, other proteins, proteoglycans, and growth factors. We have developed a procedure for culturing cardiomyocytes on a naturally occurring complete extracellular matrix, Cardiogel. This substrate, synthesized by cardiac fibroblasts, contains laminin, fibronectin, Types I and III collagen, and proteoglycans. When compared to cardiomyocytes grown on laminin alone or fibronectin alone, Cardiogel-supported cardiomyocytes adhere more rapidly after plating, exhibit spontaneous contractility earlier, undergo cytoskeletal and myofibrillar differentiation earlier, and grow larger than their counterparts. We suggest that their superior growth characteristics reflect the synergistic effect of numerous extracellular matrix components’ signals in Cardiogel transduced by the cardiomyocyte cytoskeletal elements.