This study examined the effects of a mutation that inactivates the myostatin gene on calving, growth, carcass and meat quality traits in South Devon cattle. This breed carries at intermediate frequency an 11-bp deletion (MH) in the myostatin gene, known to be associated with the double-muscling phenotype, thus allowing a comparison of three genotype classes. The MH allele was associated with increased calving difficulty, carcass weight, muscle conformation and ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids, as well as with reduced growth rate, carcass and meat fatness, and desirable flavour. However, the nature of the genetic effects differed between traits: in some cases the heterozygote MH carriers were more similar to the non-carriers than to homozygote carriers and in some cases, intermediate between the two homozygotes. The direction of these genetic effects has implications for the management of this genetic variation in the South Devon and other breeds. (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd.