Myostatin is a negative regulator of muscle growth and fiber size. Changes in myostatin expression might contribute to changes in muscle mass associated with various conditions, and reducing the amount of active myostatin is a potential strategy for preventing or reversing muscle atrophy. The present study was done to determine the extent to which myostatin levels must decline to induce growth of mature muscles. Myostatin expression was reduced by activating Cre recombinase in adult mice with floxed myostatin genes. The duration of Cre activation varied from 1 to 6 wk, and the residual myostatin mRNA expression after Cre activation varied from 3 to 63% of the normal level. Promyostatin levels declined in parallel with myostatin mRNA. There was no increase in muscle mass over the 3 mo following Cre activation if residual myostatin expression was >or=40% of normal. In mice with <40% of normal myostatin expression, muscle mass increased in proportion to the extent of myostatin depletion. In mice with <or=10% of normal myostatin expression, muscle mass increased approximately 25%. Myostatin depletion increased myonuclear domain volumes and the ratio of RNA to myonuclei probably by enhancing DNA transcription rather than by inhibiting RNA decay. There was no evidence that maintenance of the hypertrophy during chronic myostatin deficiency requires altered activity of Akt/mTOR or p38 MAPK signaling pathways. These data suggest that anabolic therapies based on reducing the concentration of active myostatin will be effective only if a very large proportion of the myostatin is removed or inactivated.