The effect of ractopamine hydrochloride (RH) and zilpaterol hydrochloride (ZH) on slice shear force (SSF) and sensory characteristics of beef from calf-fed Holstein steers was evaluated. All steers were implanted with a progesterone (100 mg) plus estradiol benzoate (10 mg) implant followed by a terminal trenbolone acetate (200 mg) plus estradiol (40 mg) implant. Steers were blocked by weight into pens (n = 32) randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: control, RH fed at 300 mg·steer-1·d-1 (RH 300) or RH fed at 400 mg·steer-1·d-1(RH 400) for the final 31 d of finishing, or ZH fed at 6.8 g/t for 21 d with a 5-d withdrawal before harvest. Fourteen carcasses were randomly selected from each pen, and two LM samples (1 per side) were excised and aged either 14 or 21 d before SSF testing. For trained panel evaluation, two steaks were collected from each of 60 low Choice strip loins (20 each from control, RH 300, and ZH treatments) and aged either 14 or 21 d. Steers fed RH and ZH produced steaks with SSF values that were 9% to 25% higher than controls. No difference in SSF was detected between the two levels of RH (P > 0.05). Compared to controls, the probability of steaks aged 14 d failing to meet SSF requirements to be certified tender (SSF < 20 kg) was increased 0.15, 0.17, and 0.26 in steers fed RH 300, RH 400, and ZH, respectively. Compared to controls, the probability of steaks aged 21 d having SSF values >20 kg was increased 0.03, 0.08, and 0.16 in steers fed RH 300, RH 400, and ZH, respectively. Steaks from Select carcasses of steers fed ZH aged 21 d postmortem had double the probability (0.39 vs. 0.17) of having SSF values >20 kg compared to steaks from steers fed either level of RH (P < 0.05). This difference tended to be identical in steaks from Select carcasses 14 d postmortem (0.50 vs. 0.33; P = 0.11); however, no difference was found in low Choice samples at 14 or 21 d postmortem. Trained panelists rated steaks aged 14 d from steers fed ZH lower for overall tenderness and flavor compared to controls (P < 0.05); however, no difference was found between controls and those fed RH 300. Steaks from steers fed ZH aged 21 d were rated lower for overall tenderness and juiciness compared to controls and those from steers fed RH 300 (P < 0.05). This study suggests RH and ZH negatively impact sensory attributes of beef from calf-fed Holstein steers.