Immobilization of one hindlimb of young rats in plantar flexion for 3 days led to changes in the plantaris muscles. These comprised a loss of muscle mass and a reduction in protein and RNA content, but no change in the transcript levels of the myogenic regulatory factors myogenin and myoD. Dietary administration of the beta-adrenoceptor agonist clenbuterol (2 mg/kg diet), which has been shown to ameliorate muscle wasting in a wide range of atrophic conditions, also limited muscle wasting in terms of weight, protein, and RNA in the immobilized plantaris muscles. In addition, drug treatment in immobilized plantaris muscles was associated with a marked increase in the steady-state levels of mRNA for myogenin (approximately 360% increase over control) but not myoD. These data provide the first evidence for independent changes in these two myogenic regulatory factors in immobilized muscle and suggest that the action of clenbuterol on these factors may depend on the mechanistic basis for the atrophic response.