Skeletal muscle stem (satellite) cells supporting growth/regeneration are thought to be activated and incorporated into growing myofibers by both endocrine and locally expressed autocrine/paracrine growth factors, the latter being load sensitive. We recently found that myofiber hypertrophy with resistance training is superior in young men (YM) vs. young women and older adults (Kosek DJ, Kim JS, Petrella JK, Cross JM, and Bamman MM. J Appl Physiol 101: 531-544, 2006). We hypothesized that the advanced myofiber hypertrophy in YM is facilitated by myonuclear addition in response to a milieu promoting stem cell activation. Twenty-six young (27.0 +/- 1 yr, 50% women) and 26 older (63.7 +/- 1 yr, 50% women) adults completed 16 wk of knee extensor resistance training. Vastus lateralis biopsies were obtained at baseline, 24 h after one bout, and after 16 wk. Muscle stem cells were identified immunohistochemically with anti-neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM+). Muscle transcript levels of IGF-I and mechanogrowth factor (MGF) were determined by RT-PCR. Serum IGF-I, IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-3, IGFBP-1, total and free testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and androstenedione were assessed by radioimmunoassay. Myofiber hypertrophy was twofold greater in YM vs. others, and only YM increased NCAM+ cells per 100 myofibers (49%) and myonuclei per fiber (19%) (P < 0.05). IGF-IEa mRNA was higher in young and increased acutely (29%) with summation by 16 wk (96%) (P < 0.05). MGF mRNA increased only in young after one bout (81%) and by 16 wk (85%) (P < 0.001). Circulating IGF-I was twofold higher in young, whereas IGFBP-1 was lowest in YM (P < 0.05). Among men, free testosterone was 59% higher in YM (P < 0.01). Myonuclear addition was most effectively accomplished in YM, which likely drove the superior growth.