Myostatin is a negative regulator of muscle mass and has been reported to be upregulated in several conditions characterized by muscle atrophy. The influence of sepsis on myostatin expression and activity is poorly understood. Here, we tested the hypothesis that sepsis upregulates the expression and downstream signaling of myostatin in skeletal muscle. Because sepsis-induced muscle wasting is at least in part regulated by glucocorticoids, we also determined the influence of glucocorticoids on myostatin expression. Sepsis was induced in rats by cecal ligation and puncture and control rats were sham-operated. In other experiments, rats were injected intraperitoneally with dexamethasone (10 mg/kg) or corresponding volume of vehicle. Surprisingly, myostatin mRNA levels were reduced and myostatin protein levels were unchanged in muscles from septic rats. Muscle levels of activin A, follistatin, and total and phosphorylated Smad2 (p-Smad2) were not influenced by sepsis, suggesting that myostatin downstream signaling was not altered during sepsis. Interestingly, total and p-Smad3 levels were increased in septic muscle, possibly reflecting altered signaling through pathways other than myostatin. Similar to sepsis, treatment of rats with dexamethasone reduced myostatin mRNA levels and did not alter myostatin protein levels. Fasting, an additional condition characterized by muscle wasting, reduced myostatin mRNA and activin A protein levels, increased myostatin protein, and did not influence follistatin and p-Smad2 levels. Of note, total and p-Smad3 levels were reduced in muscle during fasting. The results suggest that sepsis and glucocorticoids do not upregulate the expression and activity of myostatin in skeletal muscle. The role of myostatin may vary between different conditions characterized by muscle wasting. Downstream signaling through Smad2 and 3 is probably regulated not only by myostatin but by other mechanisms as well. J. Cell. Biochem. 111: 1059–1073, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.