Both fetal and adult skeletal muscle cells are continually being subjected to biomechanical forces. Biomechanical stimulation during cell growth affects proliferation, differentiation and maturation of skeletal muscle cells. Bone marrow-derived hMSCs [human MSCs (mesenchymal stem cells)] can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including skeletal muscle cells that are potentially a source for muscle regeneration. Our investigations involved a 10% cyclic uniaxial strain at 1 Hz being applied to hMSCs grown on collagen-coated silicon membranes with or without IGF-I (insulin-like growth factor-I) for 24 h. Results obtained from morphological studies confirmed the rearrangement of cells after loading. Comparison of MyoD and MyoG mRNA levels between test groups showed that mechanical loading alone can initiate myogenic differentiation. Furthermore, comparison of Myf5, MyoD, MyoG and Myf6 mRNA levels between test groups showed that a combination of mechanical loading and growth factor results in the highest expression of myogenic genes. These results indicate that cyclic strain may be useful in myogenic differentiation of stem cells, and can accelerate the differentiation of hMSCs into MSCs in the presence of growth factor.