Postnatal skeletal muscle growth is a result of hypertrophy of existing skeletal muscle fibers in food producing animals. Accumulation of additional nuclei, as a source of DNA, to the multinucleated skeletal muscle fiber aids in fiber hypertrophy during periods of rapid skeletal muscle growth. Muscle satellite cells are recognized as the source of nuclei to support muscle hypertrophy. Exogenous growth-enhancing compounds have been used to modulate growth rate and efficiency in meat animals for over a half century. In cattle, these compounds enhance efficiency of growth by preferentially stimulating skeletal muscle growth compared with adipose tissue. There are 2 main classes of compounds approved for use in cattle in the United States, anabolic steroids and beta-adrenergic agonists (beta-AA). Administration of both trenbolone acetate and estradiol-17beta, as implants, increased carcass protein accumulation 8 to 10% in yearling steers. Muscle satellite cells isolated from steers implanted with trenbolone acetate/ estradiol-17beta had a shorter lag phase in culture compared with satellite cells isolated from control steers. Collectively, these data indicate that activation, increased proliferation, and subsequent fusion of satellite cells in muscles of implanted cattle may be an important mechanism by which anabolic steroids enhance muscle hypertrophy. Oral administration of beta-AA to ruminants does not alter DNA accumulation in skeletal muscle over a typical feeding period (28 to 42 d). Enhanced muscle hypertrophy observed due to beta-AA feeding occurs by direct, receptor-mediated changes in protein synthesis and degradation rates of skeletal muscle tissue. Proper timing of anabolic steroid administration when coupled with beta-AA feeding could result in a synergistic response in skeletal muscle growth due to the effects of anabolic steroids at increasing satellite cell activity, which then can support the rapid hypertrophic changes of the muscle fiber when exposed to beta-AA. At the same time each of these classes of compounds are stimulating lean tissue deposition, they appear to repress adipogenesis in meat animals. Increased knowledge of the mechanism by which growth promoters regulate lean tissue deposition and adipogenesis in meat animals will allow for effective application of these techniques to optimize lean tissue growth and minimize the negative effects on meat quality.