The polymeric split Hopkinson pressure bar (PSHPB) apparatus is introduced as a means for measuring the high strain rate (1,000-2,500 s(-1)) compressive properties of soft tissues. Issues related to specimen design are discussed, and protocols are presented for specimen preparation. Proposed specimen geometries were validated using high-speed photography. Stress-strain data were obtained for high strain rate compression of bovine muscle tissue to strains as high as 80%. The stress-strain curves were found to be strain rate-sensitive and concave upward, as is typical of soft tissues. Rigor had a significant impact on the material properties between 5 and 24 h post mortem, while at longer times, properties returned essentially to their pre-rigor values. This study presents some of the first published high rate properties of muscle tissue, data that are urgently for advanced modeling of the human body and for evaluation of safety systems for the human body.