Fetal cardiomyocytes have been proposed as a potential source of cell-based therapy for heart failure. This study examined cellular senescence in cultured human fetal ventricular cardiomyocytes (HFCs). HFCs were isolated and identified by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR. Cells were found to senesce after 20-25 population doublings, as determined by growth arrest, morphological changes and senescence-associated beta-galactosidase activity. Using the telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay, telomerase activity was undetectable in primary HFCs.