Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) demonstrate a limited exercise capacity. It is unknown whether muscle fiber atrophy and subsequent decrease in force production contributes to this functional limitation. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to determine whether emphysema-induced muscle fiber atrophy leads to a reduction in locomotory muscle force production. Maximal muscle force production and fiber cross-sectional area were measured in the almost exclusively fast-twitch extensor digitorium longus muscles at 4 and 8 months following saline (control, n=8/time period) or elastase (emphysema, n=15/time period) instillation in the lungs of hamsters. Excised lung volume increased 145 and 161% with emphysema at 4 and 8 months, respectively (both P<0.01). Muscle mass, maximal force, and fiber cross-section were unaltered at 4 months. However, absolute mass (-15%) and fiber cross-sectional area (-18%) were reduced at 8 months (both P<0.01). Surprisingly, maximal force was preserved in emphysema animals. These data demonstrate that maximal muscle force may be preserved in the face of emphysema-induced fiber atrophy.