Skeletal muscle increases in size due to weight bearing loads or passive stretch. This growth response is dependent in part upon myoblast proliferation. Although skeletal muscles are responsive to mechanical forces, the effect on myoblast proliferation remains unknown. To investigate the effects of mechanical stretch on myoblast proliferation, primary myoblasts isolated from Balb/c mice were subjected to 25% cyclical uniaxial stretch for 5 h at 0.5 Hz. Stretch stimulated myoblast proliferation by 32% and increased cell number by 41% 24 and 48 h after stretch, respectively. COX2 mRNA increased 3.5-fold immediately poststretch. Prostaglandin E2 and F2alpha increased 2.4- and 1.6-fold 6 h after stretch, respectively. Because COX2 has been implicated in regulating muscle growth and regeneration, we hypothesized that stretched myoblasts may proliferate via a COX2-dependent mechanism. We employed two different models to disrupt COX2 activity: (1) treatment with a COX2-selective drug, and (2) transgenic mice null for COX2. Treating myoblasts with a COX2-specific inhibitor blocked stretch-induced proliferation. Likewise, stretched COX2-/- myoblasts failed to proliferate compared to controls. However, supplementing stretched, COX2-/- myoblasts with prostaglandin E2 or fluprostenol increased proliferation. These data suggest that the COX2 pathway is critical for myoblast proliferation in response to stretch.