The structure and function of myosin crossbridges in asynchronous insect flight muscle (IFM) have been elucidated in situ using multiple approaches. These include generating "atomic" models of myosin in multiple contractile states by rebuilding the crystal structure of chicken subfragment 1 (S1) to fit IFM crossbridges in lower-resolution electron microscopy tomograms and by "mapping" the functional effects of genetically substituted, isoform-specific domains, including the converter domain, in chimeric IFM myosin to sequences in the crystal structure of chicken S1. We prepared helical reconstructions (approximately 25 A resolution) to compare the structural characteristics of nucleotide-free myosin0 S1 bound to actin (acto-S1) isolated from chicken skeletal muscle (CSk) and the flight muscles of Lethocerus (Leth) wild-type Drosophila (wt Dros) and a Drosophila chimera (IFI-EC) wherein the converter domain of the indirect flight muscle myosin isoform has been replaced by the embryonic skeletal myosin converter domain. Superimposition of the maps of the frozen-hydrated acto-S1 complexes shows that differences between CSk and IFM S1 are limited to the azimuthal curvature of the lever arm: the regulatory light-chain (RLC) region of chicken skeletal S1 bends clockwise (as seen from the pointed end of actin) while those of IFM S1 project in a straight radial direction. All the IFM S1s are essentially identical other than some variation in the azimuthal spread of density in the RLC region. This spread is most pronounced in the IFI-EC S1, consistent with proposals that the embryonic converter domain increases the compliance of the IFM lever arm affecting the function of the myosin motor. These are the first unconstrained models of IFM S1 bound to actin and the first direct comparison of the vertebrate and invertebrate skeletal myosin II classes, the latter for which, data on the structure of discrete acto-S1 complexes, are not readily available.