We measured dynamic changes in volume during contraction of live, intact frog skeletal muscle fibers through a high-speed, intensified, digital-imaging microscope. Optical cross-sections along the axis of resting cells were scanned and compared with sections during the plateau of isometric tetanic contractions. Contraction caused an increase in volume of the central third of a cell when axial force was maximum and constant and the central segment was stationary or lengthened slightly. But changes were unequal along a cell and not predicted by a cell's resting area or shape (circularity). Rapid local adjustments in the cytoskeletal evidently keep forces in equilibrium during contraction of living skeletal muscle. These results also show that optical signals may be distorted by nonuniform volume changes during contraction.