To determine the fate of the atrioventricular endocardial cushions in cardiac development, we used staining methods for extracellular fibronectin, which is abundant in the endocardial cushions, and actin, which is abundant in the myocytes. White Leghorn chick embryo hearts were harvested at Hamburger and Hamilton stages 26 to 36, and serial sections of the atrioventricular valve region were stained. Before atrioventricular valve formation, fibronectin and actin staining reveal separation between the fibronectin-rich endocardial cushions and the actin-rich myocardial layer. The developing mitral valve leaflets at all of the observed stages contain a fibronectin-rich matrix but no actin-rich myocytes. In contrast, the tricuspid band includes both fibronectin matrix and actin-rich cells. We conclude that the mitral valve leaflets in the chick form predominantly from the endocardial cushion tissue, and the tricuspid band receives contributions from both the endocardial cushions and surrounding myocardium.