1. In the present review, we describe how muscles can be injured by external factors, internal factors or during the performance of some actions during sports. In addition, we describe the injury to a muscle that occurs when its blood supply is interrupted, an occurrence common in clinical settings. An overview of muscle regeneration is presented, as well as a discussion of some of the potential complications that can compromise successful muscle repair and lead to impaired function and permanent disability. 2. Improving muscle regeneration is important for hastening muscle repair and restoring muscle function and the present review describes ways in which this can be achieved. We describe recent advances in tissue engineering that offer considerable promise for treating muscle damage, but highlight the fact that these techniques require rigorous evaluation before they can become mainstream clinical treatments. 3. Growth-promoting agents are purported to increase the size of existing and newly regenerating muscle fibres and, therefore, could be used to improve muscle function if administered at appropriate times during the repair process. The present review provides an update on the efficacy of some growth-promoting agents, including anabolic steroids, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonists, to improve muscle function after injury. Although these approaches have clinical merit, a better understanding of the androgenic, IGF-I and b-adrenoceptor signalling pathways in skeletal muscle is important if we are to devise safe and effective therapies to enhance muscle regeneration and function after injury.