We show that Myf-5 and mNotch mRNA are both present in the presomitic mesoderm before muscle cell commitment and before muscle structural gene activation. The failure of presomitic mesoderm to respond to Myf-5 and express myogenic properties implies that there may be a mechanism in presomitic mesoderm to suppress muscle differentiation. Here we show that ectopic expression of the intracellular domain of mNotch (mNotchIC) functions as a constitutively activated repressor of myogenesis both in cultured cells and in frog embryos. Mutagenesis experiments indicate that the target for inactivation by mNotch is the MyoD basic helix-loop-helix domain. mNotchIC contains a nuclear localization signal and localizes to the nucleus. Removal of the nuclear localization signal (NLS) reduces nuclear localization and diminishes the inhibition of myogenesis caused by Myf-5 or MyoD. Additional experiments show that the CDC10/SWI6/ankyrin repeats are also necessary for myogenic inhibition.