Previous investigations of the effects of clenbuterol have used suprapharmacological doses that induce myocyte death, alter muscle phenotype, and do not approximate the proposed therapeutic dose for humans. Recently, we reported that smaller doses of clenbuterol induce muscle growth without causing myocyte death. In the present study we used histochemical and proteomic techniques to investigate the molecular effects of this dose. Male Wistar rats (n = 6, per group) were infused with saline or 10 microg/kg/day clenbuterol via subcutaneously implanted osmotic pumps. After 14 days the animals' plantaris muscles were isolated for histochemical and proteomic analyses. Clenbuterol induced significant muscle growth with concomitant protein accretion and preferential hypertrophy of fast oxidative glycolytic fibers. Clenbuterol reduced the optical density of mitochondrial staining in fast fibers by 20% and the glycogen content of the muscle by 30%. Differential analysis of two-dimensional gels showed that heat shock protein 72 and beta-enolase increased, whereas aldolase A, phosphogylcerate mutase, and adenylate kinase decreased. Only heat shock protein 72 has previously been investigated in clenbuterol-treated muscles. The clenbuterol-induced increase in muscle growth was concomitant with qualitative changes in the muscle's proteome that need to be considered when proposing therapeutic uses for this agent.