Skeletal muscle is often the site of tissue injury due to trauma, disease, developmental defects or surgery. Yet, to date, no effective treatment is available to stimulate the repair of skeletal muscle. We show that the kinetics and extent of muscle regeneration in vivo after trauma are greatly enhanced following systemic administration of curcumin, a pharmacological inhibitor of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Biochemical and histological analyses indicate an effect of curcumin after only 4 days of daily intraperitoneal injection compared with controls that require >2 wk to restore normal tissue architecture. Curcumin can act directly on cultured muscle precursor cells to stimulate both cell proliferation and differentiation under appropriate conditions. Other pharmacological and genetic inhibitors of NF-kappaB also stimulate muscle differentiation in vitro. Inhibition of NF-kappaB-mediated transcription was confirmed using reporter gene assays. We conclude that NF-kappaB exerts a role in regulating myogenesis and that modulation of NF-kappaB activity within muscle tissue is beneficial for muscle repair. The striking effects of curcumin on myogenesis suggest therapeutic applications for treating muscle injuries.