A culture system utilizing single skeletal muscle fibers from adult rats was developed to study the origin and behavior of mononucleated myoblasts during muscle regeneration. The single fibers are removed manually from the leg and thigh muscles at 300-400 gm rats and maintained in vitro embedded in a fibrin clot overlain with culture medium. Regenerative events were monitored by continuous observations of the cultured fibers. During the first few hours in vitro the fibers undergo degenerative changes including the formation of myofibrillar contraction clots and pyknosis of myonuclei. The endomysial tube (basement lamina) remains intact along the entire length of the fiber and forms transparent chambers bridging the contraction clots. Single fibers are free of endomysial cells and display no cellular outgrowth in cultures, except at the cut ends. In contrast, a rich outgrowth of endomysial connective tissue cells is found with bundles consisting of two or more fibers. Isolated mononucleated cells, presumed to be muscle satellite cells, are present within the endomysial tube of single fibers at the onset of the culture period. There is no evidence that myonuclei contribute to the formation of mononucleated cells. The satellite cells enlarge and begin to proliferate during the second day in vitro to form clones of presumptive myoblasts within the endomysial tube. The early clones have a cell doubling time of about 22 hours and exhibit mitotic synchrony. After 5-7 days in vitro the satellite cell progeny begin to fuse to form multinucleated myotubes within the endomysial tube of the original fiber. The myotubes display spontaneous contractile activity and may extend throughout the length of the endomysial tube.