A cell-free transcription system was developed using nuclear extracts of rat skeletal muscle to examine the transcription of specific genes involved in ribosome biogenesis and histone synthesis. Isolation and purification of muscle tissue nuclei were required prior to obtaining a transcriptionally active extract. The transcriptional abilities of myoblast, myotube, and muscle tissue nuclear extracts were then compared using the adenovirus major late promoter as a reporter gene. Transcription of r-protein L32 and histone H4 gene templates remained high in all extracts while histone H3 gene transcription was reduced in both myotube and muscle tissue extracts. These data indicate that transcription of these genes in myotubes and muscle tissue nuclear extracts is similar. Therefore, the L6 myoblast system accurately reflects the ability of intact muscle tissue to transcribe the genes concerned with histone production and ribosome biogenesis.