PURPOSE: The development of cancer cachexia is the most common manifestation of advanced malignant disease. METHOD: The effects on muscle regeneration of 2-adrenoceptor agonist formoterol (0.3 mg/kg) were tested in cachectic tumour-bearing rats (Yoshida AH-130 ascites hepatoma). RESULTS: Administration of formoterol results in a significant increase in the mass and protein content of tibialis muscle in tumour-bearing-rats. This increase is associated with a decreased myogenin mRNA content together with an increased Pax-7 gene expression. Bupivacaine treatment by local injection results in an important reduction in tibialis weight together with significant increases in Pax-7, myogenin and MyoD gene expression. Formoterol treatment in bupivacaine-treated rats results in significant increases in Pax-7 together with significant decreases in myogenin mRNA content, suggesting that this 2-agonist is favouring muscle regeneration by stimulating the proliferation of satellite cells.Altogether, the data reinforce the potential role of formoterol in the treatment of muscle wasting diseases.