We have developed a new method for the rapid isolation of tropomyosin-containing microfilaments from cultured cells using anti-tropomyosin monoclonal antibodies. Anti-tropomyosin monoclonal antibodies induce the bundle formation of microfilaments, which can be easily collected by low speed centrifugation. Electron microscopic studies of the isolated microfilaments show periodic localization of tropomyosin along the microfilaments of nonmuscle cells with a 33-34 nm repeat. Furthermore, the isolated microfilaments have the ability to activate the Mg2+-ATPase activity of skeletal muscle myosin to almost the same extent as skeletal muscle F-actin (filamentous actin). This microfilament isolation method is applicable to a variety of cell types, including REF-52 cells (an established rat embryo line), L6 myoblasts, 3T3 fibroblasts, Chinese hamster ovary cells, baby hamster kidney (BHK-21) cells, mouse neuroblastoma cells, gerbil fibroma cells, and chicken embryo fibroblasts. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel analysis shows that, in addition to actin, microfilaments isolated from REF-52 cells contain five species of tropomyosin with apparent Mr = 40,000, 36,500, 35,000, 32,400, and 32,000, alpha-actinin, and as yet unknown proteins with apparent Mr = 83,000 and 37,000. The molar ratio of total tropomyosin (dimer) to actin in the isolated microfilaments is 1:8. The patterns of these multiple forms of tropomyosin were found to change when REF-52 cells were transformed with SV40 or adenovirus type 5.