Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the capacity to differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, adipocytes, myocytes, and cardiomyocytes. Several established methods are presently available for in vitro isolation of MSCs from bone marrow. However, the duration necessary to culture them can be a major handicap to cell-based therapies needed for such urgent cardiovascular conditions as acute myocardial infarction and acute hindlimb ischemia. The best timing of cardiomyocyte differentiation induction after MCS isolation and expansion is still an unresolved issue. Our goal was to investigate the possibility of obtaining functional cardiomyocytes from rat MSC within a shorter time period. We examined MSCs' colony-forming capacity, CD90 and CD34 immunoreactivity during the 14 days of culturing. Cardiomyocyte differentiation was induced by 5-azacytidine. Immunohistochemic staining, together with intracellular Ca(2+) measurement experiments, revealed that MSCs do not differentiate into any specific cell lineage but show the characteristics of MSCs on both the 9th and 14th days of the culture. To check the potential for differentiation into cardiomyocytes, experiments with caffeine application and depolarization with KCl were performed. The cells possessed some of the specific biochemical features of contracting cells, with slightly higher capacities on the 14th day. Cells from 9th and 14th days of the culture that were treated with 5-azacytidine had a higher expression of cardiac-specific markers such as troponin I, alpha-sarcomeric actin, and MEF2D compared with the control groups. This study illustrates that it is possible to get functional cardiomyocytes from in vitro MSC culture in a shorter time period than previously achieved. This reduction in time may provide emergency cases with access to cell-based therapies that may have previously been unavailable.