Skeletal muscle is the dominant organ system in locomotion and energy metabolism. Postnatal muscle grows and adapts largely by remodelling pre-existing fibres, whereas embryonic muscle grows by the proliferation of myogenic cells. Recently, the genetic hierarchies of the myogenic transcription factors that control vertebrate muscle development - by myoblast proliferation, migration, fusion and functional adaptation into fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibres - have become clearer. The transcriptional mechanisms controlling postnatal hypertrophic growth, remodelling and functional differentiation redeploy myogenic factors in concert with serum response factor (SRF), JUNB and forkhead box protein O3A (FOXO3A). It has also emerged that there is extensive post-transcriptional regulation by microRNAs in development and postnatal remodelling.