In this study we have shown that the skeletal muscle fibres from adult (older than 26 weeks) mdx mice have gross structural deformities. We have characterized the onset and age dependence of this feature in mdx mice. The three dimensional structure of these deformities has been visualized in isolated fibres and the orientation of these deformities was determined within the muscle by confocal laser scanning microscopy. We have also shown that the occurrence of morphologically abnormal fibres is greater in muscles with longer fibres (extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and soleus, 6-7.3 mm long), than in muscles with shorter fibres (flexor digitorum brevis (FDB), 0.3-0.4 mm long). A population of post-degenerative fibres, with both central and peripheral nuclei coexistent along the length of the fibre, has also been identified in the muscles studied. We showed that a mild protocol of lengthening (eccentric) contractions (the muscle was stretched by 12% during a tetanic contraction) caused a major reduction in the maximal tetanic force subsequently produced by mdx EDL muscle. In contrast, maximal tetanic force production in normal soleus, normal EDL and mdx soleus muscles was not altered by this protocol. We suggest that the deformed fast glycolytic fibres which are found in adult mdx EDL but not in adult mdx soleus muscles are the population of fibres damaged by the lengthening protocol.