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Growth, gravidity and lactation put high demands on the performance of the myocardium. The aim of this study, which was performed in 40 female and 20 male bovines ranging from 1 to 4.5 years old, was to determine gross and microscopic morphometric data of bovine myocardium to establish a comparative measure of myocardial growth during juvenile development. During the developmental stage of young adulthood, age-related increases in female myocardial characteristics included cardiac mass, left and right ventricular mass and the ratio of cardiac mass to loose connective tissue. Age-related decreases were observed in the number of myocyte nuclei per mm(2) and the thickness of the right ventricular wall. Sex differences in these parameters were found between 2-year-old bulls (N = 20) and 2-year-old heifers (N = 10), with males having heavier hearts, thicker ventricular walls, less myocytes in the left ventricle and less connective tissue in both ventricles. Age and sex had no influence on the ratio of capillaries to myocytes, estimated at 0.98 in the adult bovine. Capillary density does not change during juvenile development, but cross-sectional capillary area does adapt to myocyte cross-sectional area, accounting for this relatively constant ratio.