Long-term culture of primary neonatal rat cardiomyocytes is limited by the loss of spontaneous contractile phenotype within weeks in culture. This may be due to loss of contractile cardiomyocytes from the culture or overgrowth of the non-cardiomyocyte population. Using the mitochondria specific fluorescent dye, tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester perchlorate (TMRM), we showed that neonatal rat cardiomyocytes enriched by fluorescence-activated cell sorting can be maintained as contractile cultures for long periods (24-wk culture vs. 2 wk for unsorted cardiomyocytes). Long-term culture of this purified cardiomyocyte (TMRM high) population retained the expression of cardiomyocyte markers, continued calcium cycling, and displayed cyclic electrical activity that could be regulated pharmacologically. These findings suggest that non-cardiomyocyte populations can negatively influence contractility of cardiomyocytes in culture and that by purifying cardiomyocytes, the cultures retain potential as an experimental model for longitudinal studies of cardiomyocyte biology in vitro. Copyright © 2012 the American Physiological Society.