Unique unaffected skeletal muscle fibres. unlike necrotic torso and limb muscles, may pave the way for a more detailed understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of inherited neuromuscular disorders and help to develop new treatment strategies for muscular dystrophies. The sparing of extraocular muscle in Duchenne muscular dystrophy is mostly attributed to the special protective properties of extremely fast-twitching small-diameter fibres, but here we show that distal muscles also represent a particular phenotype that is more resistant to necrosis. Immunoblot analysis of membranes isolated from the well established dystrophic animal model mdx shows that, in contrast to dystrophic limb muscles, the toe musculature exhibits an up-regulation of the autosomal dystrophin homologue utrophin and a concomitant rescue of dystrophin-associated glycoproteins. Thus distal mdx muscle groups provide a cellular system that naturally avoids myofibre degeneration which might be useful in the search for naturally occurring compensatory mechanisms in inherited skeletal muscle diseases.