To study genetic variation in meat quality traits measured by rapid methods, data were recorded between 2005 and 2008 on samples of M. longissimus dorsi (LD) in Landrace (n = 3838) and Duroc (n = 2250) pigs included in the Norwegian pig breeding scheme. In addition, ultimate pH levels in the glycolytic LD (loin muscle) and M. gluteus medius (GM, ham muscle), and in the oxidative m. gluteus profundus (GP, ham muscle) were recorded as an extended data set (n = 16 732 and n = 7456 for Landrace and Duroc, respectively) from 1998 to 2008. Data were analysed with a multi-trait animal model using AI-REML methodology. Meat from Duroc had considerably more intramuscular fat (IMF), less moisture and protein, appeared darker with higher colour intensity and had lower drip loss than meat from Landrace. The heritability estimates (s.e. 0.01 to 0.07) for pH in LD (0.19 and 0.27 for Landrace and Duroc, respectively), GM (0.12 and 0.22) and GP (0.19 and 0.38), drip loss (0.23 and 0.33), colour values: L* (lightness) (0.41 and 0.28), a* (redness) (0.46 and 0.43), b* (yellowness) (0.31 and 0.33), IMF (0.50 and 0.62), muscle moisture (0.31 and 0.50) and muscle protein content (0.40 and 0.54) in LD all demonstrated moderate-to-high genetic variation for these traits in both breeds. Near infrared spectroscopy and EZ-DripLoss are modern technologies used in this study for the determination of chemical components and drip loss in meat. These methods gave higher heritabilities than more traditional methods used to measure these traits. The estimated genetic correlations between moisture and IMF in Duroc, and pH and drip loss in Duroc were both −0.89. Interesting differences between the two breeds in numerical value of some genetic correlations were observed, probably reflecting the differences in physiology and selection history between Landrace and Duroc. The estimated genetic correlation between drip loss and pH was much stronger in Duroc than in Landrace (−0.89 and −0.63, respectively). This might be due to the high pH in Duroc, whereas Landrace had a lower pH closer to the iso-electric point for muscle proteins. The positive genetic correlation between the L* value in meat and IMF in Duroc (0.50) was an effect of differences in visible marbling, rather than meat colour. For Landrace, this correlation was negative (−0.20). IMF content showed favourable genetic correlations to drip loss (−0.36 and −0.35 for Landrace and Duroc, respectively).