This is the first of a projected series of canonic reviews covering all invertebrate muscle literature prior to 2005 and covers muscle genes and proteins except those involved in excitation-contraction coupling (e.g., the ryanodine receptor) and those forming ligand- and voltage-dependent channels. Two themes are of primary importance. The first is the evolutionary antiquity of muscle proteins. Actin, myosin, and tropomyosin (at least, the presence of other muscle proteins in these organisms has not been examined) exist in muscle-like cells in Radiata, and almost all muscle proteins are present across Bilateria, implying that the first Bilaterian had a complete, or near-complete, complement of present-day muscle proteins. The second is the extraordinary diversity of protein isoforms and genetic mechanisms for producing them. This rich diversity suggests that studying invertebrate muscle proteins and genes can be usefully applied to resolve phylogenetic relationships and to understand protein assembly coevolution. Fully achieving these goals, however, will require examination of a much broader range of species than has been heretofore performed.