The types and the distribution of muscle fibres were analysed and compared in the tails of Xenopus laevis and Rana temporaria tadpoles. The filter feeding tadpoles of X. laevis were found to have both white muscle fibres adjacent to the notochord used for normal locomotory swimming and a superficial layer of small red fibres. The red fibres are probably used for the continuous flickering movement of the tail associated with the maintenance of the mid-water filter feeding position. R. temporaria, a grazing detritus feeding tadpole, was found to have only white muscle fibres used for normal locomotory swimming. Smaller superficial fibres were not red fibres but were thought to be immature white fibres.