The development of the valves and septa of the heart depends on the formation and remodeling of endocardial cushions. Here, we report that the alternative splicing regulator muscleblind-like 1 (MBNL1) exhibits a regionally restricted pattern of expression in canal region endocardium and ventricular myocardium during endocardial cushion development in chicken. Knockdown of MBNL1 in atrioventricular explants leads to a transforming growth factor β-dependent increase in epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) of endocardial cells. This reveals a novel role for MBNL1 during embryonic development, and represents the first evidence that an alternative splicing regulator is a key player in endocardial cushion development. Developmental Dynamics 238:3266–3272, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.