Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a significant cause of pediatric heart failure. Mutations in proteins that regulate cardiac muscle contraction can cause DCM; however, the mechanisms by which molecular-level mutations contribute to cellular dysfunction are not well understood. Better understanding of these mechanisms might enable the development of targeted therapeutics that benefit patient subpopulations with mutations that cause common biophysical defects. We examined the molecular- and cellular-level impacts of a troponin T variant associated with pediatric-onset DCM, R134G. The R134G variant decreased calcium sensitivity in an in vitro motility assay. Using stopped-flow and steady-state fluorescence measurements, we determined the molecular mechanism of the altered calcium sensitivity: R134G decouples calcium binding by troponin from the closed-to-open transition of the thin filament and decreases the cooperativity of myosin binding to regulated thin filaments. Consistent with the prediction that these effects would cause reduced force per sarcomere, cardiomyocytes carrying the R134G mutation are hypocontractile. They also show hallmarks of DCM that lie downstream of the initial insult, including disorganized sarcomeres and cellular hypertrophy. These results reinforce the importance of multiscale studies to fully understand mechanisms underlying human disease and highlight the value of mechanism-based precision medicine approaches for DCM.