The ability of satellite cells to survive the ischemic conditions at the core of orthotopically free grafted rat extensor digitorum longus muscles was examined. Cell cultures of isolated core and peripheral regions of whole muscle grafts maintained in vivo for more than 24 hours indicated that no viable cells were present in the core, whereas the number of cells from the peripheral region was greatly increased. Muscles were examined with the electron microscope to determine the fate of satellite cells of the core at various times after transplantation. The population of satellite cells in the core was reduced beginning at 18 hours and had virtually disappeared by 24–28 hours. This reduction did not appear to be the result of satellite cell death. Although there was abundant morphological evidence that myonuclei as well as myofiber cytoplasmic organelles were degenerating, there was little indication of satellite cell death in situ at any time period studied. These studies suggest that satellite cells cannot survive, but migrate from the ischemic core to more peripheral regions of whole muscle transplants. In addition, they suggest that migration is an important aspect of the regeneration response in the free graft system and permits the myogenic population to contribute en masse to the centripetal wave of regeneration from the time it is initiated at the muscle periphery.