From days 4–104 of pregnancy, adolescent sheep, weighing 43·7 (SE 0·87)kg were offered a complete diet at two different intakes (approximately 5 or 15 kg/week) designed to meet slightly, or well above, maternal maintenance requirements. The fetal and maternal muscles were taken on day 104 of pregnancy and analysed for total DNA, RNA and protein. Ewes offered a high intake to promote rapid maternal weight gain, weighed more (76·5 (SE 4·5) v. 50·0 (SE 1·7) kg) and had muscles with a greater fresh weight, whilst their fetuses had smaller muscles, than those fed at a lower intake. Plantaris muscle of the ewes fed at the high intake contained more RNA and protein; again the opposite situation was found in the fetal muscle. On the higher maternal intakes, the DNA, RNA and protein contents of the fetal plantaris muscle were less than in fetuses of ewes fed at the lower intake. To investigate the possible mechanisms involved in this decrease in fetal muscle mass, cytosolic and membrane-associated muscle proteins were subjected to Western immunoblotting with antibodies to nine isoforms of protein kinase C (PKC), a family of enzymes known to play an important role in cell growth. Five PKC isoforms (α, ε, θ, μ and ζ) were identified in fetal muscle. One of these, PKC-α, was located predominantly in the cytosolic compartment in the smaller fetuses of the ewes fed at a high plane of nutrition, but was present to a greater extent in the membranes of the more rapidly growing fetuses of the ewes fed at the lower intake. This was the only isoform to demonstrate nutritionally related changes in its subcellular compartmentation suggesting that it may mediate some aspects of the change in fetal growth rate.