We measured, by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, the motion of actin filaments in solution during hydrolysis of ATP by acto-heavy meromyosin (acto-HMM). The method relies on the fact that the intensity of fluorescence fluctuates as fluorescently labeled actin filaments enter and leave a small sample volume. The rapidity of these number fluctuations is characterized by the autocorrelation function, which decays to 0 in time that is related to the average velocity of translation of filaments. The time of decay of the autocorrelation function of bare actin filaments in solution was 10.59 +/- 0.85 s. Strongly bound (rigor) heads slowed down the diffusion. Direct observation of filaments under an optical microscope showed that addition of HMM did not change the average length or flexibility of actin filaments, suggesting that the decrease in diffusion was not due to a HMM-induced change in the shape of filaments. Rather, slowing down of translational motion was caused by an increase in the volume of the diffusing complex. Surprisingly, the addition of ATP to acto-HMM accelerated the motion of actin filaments. The acceleration was the greatest at the low molar ratios of HMM:actin. Direct observation of filaments under an optical microscope showed that in the presence of ATP the average length of filaments did not change and that the filaments became stiffer, suggesting that acceleration of diffusion was not due to an ATP-induced increase in flexibility of filaments. These results show that some of the energy of splitting of ATP is impaired to actin filaments and suggest that 0.06 +/- 0.02 of HMM interferes with the diffusion of actin filaments during hydrolysis of ATP.