Long, thick filaments (greater than 4.0 micrometer) rapidly and gently isolated from fresh, unstimulated Limulus muscle by an improved procedure have been examined by electron microscopy and optical diffraction. Images of negatively stained filaments appear highly periodic with a well-preserved myosin cross-bridge array. Optical diffraction patterns of the electron micrographs show a wealth of detail and are consistent with a myosin helical repeat of 43.8 nm, similar to that observed by x-ray diffraction. Analysis of the optical diffraction patterns, in conjunction with the appearance in electron micrographs of the filaments, supports a model for the filament in which the myosin cross-bridges are arranged on a four-stranded helix, with 12 cross-bridges per turn or each helix, thus giving an axial repeat every third level of cross-bridges (43.8 nm).

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