1. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were allocated at 100 g into either an ad lib.-fed control group or a food-restricted group. The restricted group was fed for 9 d at 25% of ad lib. intake. Controls were killed at a body-weight of 100 g and 29 d of age and the restricted animlas were killed at 70 g and 38 d of age.
2. The effects of food restriction on muscle weight, fibre number, fibre diameter, DNA, and protein were examined in three skeletal muscles, the soleus, plantaris and extensor digitorum longus (EDL).
3. Acute dietary restriction caused body- and muscle-weight loss and a decrease in both the number and cross-sectional area of muscle fibres in each of the muscles.
4. The restriction halted growth-related increases in DNA in all muscles and decreased the protein: DNA value in the plantaris and EDL.
5. These results indicate that present theories describing cellular development are not adequate to define growth potential or growth retardation of skeletal muscle.