Cardiac and skeletal muscle development are controlled by evolutionarily conserved networks of transcription factors that coordinate the expression of genes involved in muscle growth, morphogenesis, differentiation, and contractility. In addition to regulating the expression of protein-coding genes, recent studies have revealed that myogenic transcription factors control the expression of a collection of microRNAs, which act through multiple mechanisms to modulate muscle development and function. In some cases, microRNAs fine-tune the expression of target mRNAs, whereas in other cases they function as 'on-off' switches. MicroRNA control of gene expression appears to be especially important during cardiovascular and skeletal muscle diseases, in which microRNAs participate in stress-dependent remodeling of striated muscle tissues. We review findings that point to the importance of microRNA-mediated control of gene expression during muscle development and disease, and consider the potential of microRNAs as therapeutic targets.