This paper presents a three-dimensional finite element model of skeletal muscle and its validation incorporating inital tissue strains. A constitutive relation was determined by using a convex free strain energy function (SEF) where active and passive response contributions were obtained fitting experimental data from the rat tibialis anterior (TA) muscle. The passive and active finite strains response was modelled within the framework of continuum mechanics by a quasi-incompressible transversely isotropic material formulation. Magnetic resonance images (MRI) were obtained to reconstruct the external geometry of the TA. This geometry includes initial strains also taken into account in the numerical model. The numerical results show excellent agreement with the experimental results when comparing reaction force-extension curves both in passive and active tests. The proposed constitutive model for the muscle is implemented in a subroutine in the commercial finite element software package ABAQUS.