The present study analyzes the ectopic development of the rat skeletal muscle originated from transplanted satellite cells. Satellite cells (10(6) cells) obtained from hindlimb muscles of newborn female 2BAW Wistar rats were injected subcutaneously into the dorsal area of adult male rats. After 3, 7, and 14 days, the transplanted tissues (N = 4-5) were processed for histochemical analysis of peripheral nerves, inactive X-chromosome and acetylcholinesterase. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) were also labeled with tetramethylrhodamine-labeled alpha-bungarotoxin. The development of ectopic muscles was successful in 86% of the implantation sites. By day 3, the transplanted cells were organized as multinucleated fibers containing multiple clusters of nAChRs (N = 2-4), resembling those from non-innervated cultured skeletal muscle fibers. After 7 days, the transplanted cells appeared as a highly vascularized tissue formed by bundles of fibers containing peripheral nuclei. The presence of X chromatin body indicated that subcutaneously developed fibers originated from female donor satellite cells. Differently from the extensor digitorum longus muscle of adult male rat (87.9 +/- 1.0 microm; N = 213), the diameter of ectopic fibers (59.1 microm; N = 213) did not obey a Gaussian distribution and had a higher coefficient of variation. After 7 and 14 days, the organization of the nAChR clusters was similar to that of clusters from adult innervated extensor digitorum longus muscle. These findings indicate the histocompatibility of rats from 2BAW colony and that satellite cells transplanted into the subcutaneous space of adult animals are able to develop and fuse to form differentiated skeletal muscle fibers.