This study is based on transmission electron microscopic (TEM) investigations of deep (fast, 'white') teleost fish muscle proliferation in early developmental stages of three European cyprinid species and the rainbow trout. Our fine structural findings provide evidence that early myotomal growth in these animals may utilize different mechanisms that are activated in close succession during early life history. First, initial enlargement of the deep muscle bulk in the embryo seems to be due to hypertrophy of the somite-cell derived stock of muscle fibres. Second, we suggest that deep muscle growth becomes additionally powered by attachment of presumptive myogenic cells that originate from and proliferate within the adjacent mesenchymal tissue lining. Third, mesenchyme-derived muscle cell precursors are thought to enter the myotomes via the myosepta. After migration between the pre-established muscle fibres these cells may function as myosatellite cells, thus at least partly providing the stem cell population for subsequent rapid hyperplastic growth. Finally, there is evidence that presumptive deep muscle satellite cells also proliferate by mitotic division in situ. A similar process of myogenic cell migration and proliferation may foster intermediate fibre differentiation. The model of myogenic cell migration is discussed in view of in vitro and in vivo data on satellite cell migratory power and with respect to temperature-induced and species dependent differences. As for the latter, our results indicate that patterns of muscle differentiation may diverge between a fast growing salmonid species and a moderately growing cyprinid species of similar final size. The model is compatible with the well-established idea that teleost muscle growth may rely on different subclasses of myosatellite cells.