Knowledge of the events underlying satellite cell activation and the counterpart maintenance of quiescence is essential for planning therapies that will promote the growth and regeneration of skeletal muscle in healthy, disease and aging. By modeling those events of satellite cell activation in studies of single muscle fibers or muscles in culture, the roles of mechanical stretching and nitric oxide are becoming understood. Recent studies demonstrated that stretch-induced activation is very rapid and exhibits some features of satellite cell heterogeneity. As well, gene expression studies showed that expression of the c-met receptor gene rises rapidly after stretching muscles in culture compared to those without stretch. This change in gene expression during activation, and the maintenance of quiescence in both normal and dystrophic muscles are dependent on NO, as they are blocked by inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Mechanical, contractile activity is the defining feature of muscle function. Therefore, ongoing studies of stretch effects in satellite cell activation and quiescence in quiescent fiber and muscle cultures provides appropriate models by which to explore the regulatory steps in muscle in vivo under many conditions related to disease, repair, rehabilitation, growth and the prevention or treatment of atrophy.