The hyperacute rejection reaction of xenogeneic organs is supposed to be triggered by xenoreactive natural antibodies of the recipient organism. In an experimental set-up allowing for rapid medium exchange, primary cultures of spontaneously beating neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were challenged with dialyzed human serum containing xenoreactive natural antibodies. After adding the serum specimens, a reproducible pattern of disturbed contractility was observed: following an initial increase in beating frequency, spontaneous contractions stopped completely. This standstill was reversible in all experiments. No signs of permanent cytotoxicity were observed. The temporary cessation of contractions was prevented by raising extracellular calcium concentration, but not by extracellular electrical stimulation. After absorption of xenoreactive natural antibodies, cellular contractions ensued without interruption. Inactivated serum specimens produced similar effects on contractility, although the duration of the standstill period was significantly shorter. The same qualitative phenomenon occurred when sera of other xenogeneic species were used. These results point to a temporary functional disturbance of parenchymal cells by xenoreactive natural antibodies, whereas no chronic cytotoxicity was conspicuous in these experiments.