The advent of high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques, array technology and protein analysis has increased the efficiency of research in bovine muscle physiology, with the ultimate objective of improving beef quality either by breeding or rearing factors. For genetic purposes, polymorphisms in some key genes have been reported for their association with beef quality traits. The sequencing of the bovine genome has dramatically increased the number of available gene polymorphisms. The association of these new polymorphisms with the variability in beef quality (e.g. tenderness, marbling) for different breeds in different rearing systems will be a very important issue. For rearing purposes, global gene expression profiling at the mRNA or protein level has already shown that previously unsuspected genes may be associated either with muscle development or growth, and may lead to the development of new molecular indicators of tenderness or marbling. Some of these genes are specifically regulated by genetic and nutritional factors or differ between different beef cuts. In recognition of the potential economic benefits of genomics, public institutions in association with the beef industry are developing livestock genomics projects around the world. From the scientific, technical and economical points of view, genomics is thus reshaping research on beef quality.