Muscle injury or modified muscle use can stimulate muscle invasion by leucocytes that have the potential to increase tissue damage or promote tissue growth and repair. In the present investigation, we examined the role of macrophages in muscle injury, repair and regeneration during modified muscle loading. Weight-bearing was removed from the hindlimbs of mice for 10 days followed by reloading through normal ambulation. During the unloading period, soleus muscle fibre cross-section decreased by 38%. Prior to the onset of reloading, mice received a series of intraperitoneal injections of anti-F4/80, which binds a mouse macrophage surface antigen. Although anti-F4/80 injections did not affect macrophage numbers in soleus muscles at 2 days of reloading, macrophages were reduced by 86% at 4 days of reloading. Muscle membrane lysis during the reloading period did not differ at 2 days of reloading between anti-F4/80-treated mice and mice that received isotype control antibody. However, control animals showed large decreases in the number of fibres with membrane lesions at 4 days of reloading, but this membrane repair did not occur in macrophage-depleted mice. Macrophage-depletion also reduced muscle regeneration (indicated by central nucleation) and satellite cell differentiation (indicated by reductions in MyoD-expressing satellite cells) and prevented growth of muscle fibres that normally occurred in control animals between days 2 and 4 of reloading. These findings collectively show that macrophages play a significant role in muscle fibre membrane repair, regeneration and growth during increased muscle use after a period of atrophy.