Respiratory failure in patients with COPD may be caused by insufficient force production or insufficient endurance capacity of the respiratory muscles. Anabolic steroids may improve respiratory muscle function in COPD. The effect of anabolic steroids on mitochondrial function in the diaphragm in emphysema is unknown. In an emphysematous male hamster model, we investigated whether administration of the anabolic steroid nandrolone decanoate (ND) altered the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes in the diaphragm. The bodyweight of hamsters treated with ND was decreased after treatment compared with initial values, and serum testosterone levels were significantly lower in hamsters treated with ND than in control hamsters. No difference in the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes in the diaphragm between normal and emphysematous hamsters was observed. Treatment with ND did not change the activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes in the diaphragm of both normal and emphysematous hamsters. In emphysematous hamsters, administration of ND decreased the activity of succinate:cytochrome c oxidoreductase compared with ND treatment in normal hamsters. We conclude that anabolic steroids have negative effects on the activity of succinate:cytochrome c oxidoreductase and anabolic status in this emphysematous hamster model.