Cardiac dysfunction is a prominent cause of mortality in myotonic dystrophy I (DM1), a disease where expanded CUG repeats bind and disable the muscleblind-like family of splice regulators. Deletion of muscleblind-like 1 (Mbnl1(ΔE2/ΔE2)) in 129 sv mice results in QRS, QTc widening, bundle block and STc narrowing at 2-4 months of age. With time, cardiac function deteriorates further and at 6 months, decreased R wave amplitudes, sinus node dysfunction, cardiac hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis, multi-focal myocardial fiber death and calcification manifest. Sudden death, where no end point illness is overt, is observed at a median age of 6.5 and 4.8 months in ~67% and ~86% of male and female Mbnl1(ΔE2/ΔE2) mice, respectively. Mbnl1 depletion results in the persistence of embryonic splice isoforms in a network of cardiac RNAs, some of which have been previously implicated in DM1, regulating sodium and calcium currents, Scn5a, Junctin, Junctate, Atp2a1, Atp11a, Cacna1s, Ryr2, intra and inter cellular transport, Clta, Stx2, Tjp1, cell survival, Capn3, Sirt2, Csda, sarcomere and cytoskeleton organization and function, Trim55, Mapt, Pdlim3, Pdlim5, Sorbs1, Sorbs2, Fhod1, Spag9 and structural components of the sarcomere, Myom1, Tnnt2, Zasp. Thus this study supports a key role for Mbnl1 loss in the initiation of DM1 cardiac disease.