Maternal nutrition and growth hormone (GH) treatment during early- to mid-pregnancy can each alter the subsequent growth and differentiation of muscle in progeny. We have investigated the effects of varying maternal nutrition and maternal treatment with porcine (p) GH during the second quarter of pregnancy in gilts on semitendinosus muscle cross-sectional area and fibre composition of progeny, and relationships between maternal and progeny measures and progeny muscularity. Fifty-three Large White×Landrace gilts, pregnant to Large White×Duroc boars, were fed either 2·2 kg (about 35 % ad libitum intake) or 3·0 kg commercial ration (13·5 MJ digestible energy, 150 g crude protein (N×6·25)/kg DM)/d and injected with 0, 4 or 8 mg pGH/d from day 25 to 50 of pregnancy, then all were fed 2·2 kg/d for the remainder of pregnancy. The higher maternal feed allowance from day 25 to 50 of pregnancy increased the densities of total and secondary fibres and the secondary:primary fibre ratio in semitendinosus muscles of their female progeny at 61 d of age postnatally. The densities of secondary and total muscle fibres in semitendinosus muscles of progeny were predicted by maternal weight before treatment and maternal plasma insulin-like growth factor-II during treatment. Maternal pGH treatment from day 25 to day 50 of pregnancy did not alter fibre densities, but increased the cross-sectional area of the semitendinosus muscle; this may be partially explained by increased maternal plasma glucose. Thus, maternal nutrition and pGH treatment during the second quarter of pregnancy in pigs independently alter muscle characteristics in progeny.