Notch signaling mediates numerous developmental cell fate decisions in organisms ranging from flies to humans, resulting in the generation of multiple cell types from equipotential precursors. In this paper, we present evidence that activation of Notch by its ligand Serrate apportions myogenic and non-myogenic cell fates within the early Xenopus heart field. The crescent-shaped field of heart mesoderm is specified initially as cardiomyogenic. While the ventral region of the field forms the myocardial tube, the dorsolateral portions lose myogenic potency and form the dorsal mesocardium and pericardial roof (Raffin, M., Leong, L. M., Rones, M. S., Sparrow, D., Mohun, T. and Mercola, M. (2000) Dev. Biol., 218, 326–340). The local interactions that establish or maintain the distinct myocardial and non-myocardial domains have never been described. Here we show that Xenopus Notch1 (Xotch) and Serrate1 are expressed in overlapping patterns in the early heart field. Conditional activation or inhibition of the Notch pathway with inducible dominant negative or active forms of the RBP-J/Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)] transcription factor indicated that activation of Notch feeds back on Serrate1 gene expression to localize transcripts more dorsolaterally than those of Notch1, with overlap in the region of the developing mesocardium. Moreover, Notch pathway activation decreased myocardial gene expression and increased expression of a marker of the mesocardium and pericardial roof, whereas inhibition of Notch signaling had the opposite effect. Activation or inhibition of Notch also regulated contribution of individual cells to the myocardium. Importantly, expression of Nkx2. 5 and Gata4 remained largely unaffected, indicating that Notch signaling functions downstream of heart field specification. We conclude that Notch signaling through Su(H) suppresses cardiomyogenesis and that this activity is essential for the correct specification of myocardial and non-myocardial cell fates.