Clenbuterol, a β2-adrenergic agonist, reduces mitochondrial content and enzyme activities in skeletal muscle, but the mechanism involved has yet to be identified. We examined whether clenbuterol-induced changes in the muscles' metabolic profile and the intrinsic capacity of mitochondria to oxidize substrates are associated with reductions in the nuclear receptor coactivator PGC-1 alpha and/or an increase in the nuclear corepressor RIP140. In rats, clenbuterol was provided in the drinking water (30 mg/l). In 3 wk, this increased body (8%) and muscle weights (12-17%). In red (R) and white (W) muscles, clenbuterol induced reductions in mitochondrial content (citrate synthase: R, 27%; W, 52%; cytochrome-c oxidase: R, 24%; W, 34%), proteins involved in fatty acid transport (fatty acid translocase/CD36: R, 36%; W, 35%) and oxidation [β-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase (β-HAD): R, 33%; W, 62%], glucose transport (GLUT4: R, 8%; W, 13%), lactate transport monocarboxylate transporter (MCT1: R, 61%; W, 37%), and pyruvate oxidation (PDHE1α, R, 18%; W, 12%). Concurrently, only red muscle lactate dehydrogenase activity (25%) and MCT4 (31%) were increased. Palmitate oxidation was reduced in subsarcolemmal (SS) (R, 30%; W, 52%) and intermyofibrillar (IMF) mitochondria (R, 17%; W, 44%) along with reductions in β-HAD activity (SS: R, 17%; W, 51%; IMF: R, 20%; W, 57%). Pyruvate oxidation was only reduced in SS mitochondria (R, 20%; W, 28%), but this was not attributable solely to PDHE1α, which was reduced in both SS (R, 21%; W, 20%) and IMF mitochondria (R, 15%; W, 43%). These extensive metabolic changes induced by clenbuterol were associated with reductions in PGC-1α (R, 37%; W, 32%) and increases in RIP140 (R, 23%; W, 21%). This is the first evidence that clenbuterol appears to exert its metabolic effects via simultaneous and reciprocal changes in the nuclear receptor coactivator PGC-1α and the nuclear corepressor RIP140.