Despite the application of the MLC Blueprint specifications there is still unacceptable variation in meat eating quality. Evidence from the literature suggests that the intrinsic characteristics of the muscle may be an important source of variation, but there is no indication as to what extent these characteristics may explain the residual variation in eating quality. The purpose of the present study,vas to quantify the role of muscle fibre characteristics in accounting for eating quality variability. In the study, evaluation of samples from 125 pigs from eight breeding company populations indicated that fibre characteristics, particularly the diameter of the fast twitch oxidative glycolytic fibres, contributed to variation in instrumental texture of meat. In addition, the data suggest that there are genetic differences in fibre type distribution which can be used to segregate populations. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.