Cardiac regeneration may revolutionize treatment for heart failure but endogenous progenitor-derived cardiomyocytes in the adult mammalian heart are few and pre-existing adult cardiomyocytes divide only at very low rates. Although candidate genes that control cardiomyocyte cell cycle re-entry have been implicated, expression heterogeneity in the cardiomyocyte stress-response has never been explored. Here, we show by single nuclear RNA-sequencing of cardiomyocytes from both mouse and human failing, and non-failing adult hearts that sub-populations of cardiomyocytes upregulate cell cycle activators and inhibitors consequent to the stress-response in vivo. We characterize these subgroups by weighted gene co-expression network analysis and discover long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNA) as key nodal regulators. KD of nodal lincRNAs affects expression levels of genes related to dedifferentiation and cell cycle, within the same gene regulatory network. Our study reveals that sub-populations of adult cardiomyocytes may have a unique endogenous potential for cardiac regeneration in vivo.Adult mammalian cardiomyocytes are predominantly binucleated and unable to divide. Using single nuclear RNA-sequencing of cardiomyocytes from mouse and human failing and non-failing adult hearts, See et al. show that some cardiomyocytes respond to stress by dedifferentiation and cell cycle re-entry regulated by lncRNAs.