Mutations in the gene encoding α-skeletal-muscle actin, ACTA1, cause congenital myopathies of various phenotypes that have been studied since their discovery in 1999. Although much is now known about the clinical aspects of myopathies resulting from over 60 different ACTA1 mutations, we have very little evidence for how mutations alter the behavior of the actin protein and thus lead to disease. We used a combination of biochemical and cell biological analysis to classify 19 myopathy mutants and found a range of defects in the actin. Using in vitro expression systems, we probed actin folding and actin's capacity to interact with actin-binding proteins and polymerization. Only two mutants failed to fold; these represent recessive alleles, causing severe myopathy, indicating that patients produce nonfunctional actin. Four other mutants bound tightly to cyclase-associated protein, indicating a possible instability in the nucleotide-binding pocket, and formed rods and aggregates in cells. Eleven mutants showed defects in the ability to co-polymerize with wild-type actin. Some of these could incorporate into normal actin structures in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts, but two of the three tested also formed aggregates. Four mutants showed no defect in vitro but two of these formed aggregates in cells, indicating functional defects that we have not yet tested for. Overall, we found a range of defects and behaviors of the mutants in vitro and in cultured cells, paralleling the complexity of actin-based muscle myopathy phenotypes.