Skeletal muscle is a highly plastic tissue with a remarkable capacity to adapt itself to challenges imposed by contractile activity. Adaptive response, that include hypertrophy and activation of oxidative mechanisms have been associated with transient changes in transcriptional activity of specific genes. To define the set of genes regulated by a depolarizing stimulus, we used 22 K mouse oligonucleotide microarrays. Total RNA from C2C12 myotubes was obtained at 2, 4, 18, and 24 h after high K+ stimulation. cDNA from control and depolarized samples was labeled with cyanine 3 or 5 dyes prior to microarray hybridization. Loess normalization followed by statistical analysis resulted in 423 differentially expressed genes using an unadjusted P-value ≤ 0.01 as cut off. Depolarization affects transcriptional activity of a limited number of genes, mainly associated with metabolism, cell communication and response to stress. A number of genes related to Ca2+ signaling pathways are induced at 4 h, reinforcing the potential role of Ca2+ in early steps of signal transduction that leads to gene expression. Significant changes in the expression of molecules involved in muscle cell structure were observed; K+-depolarization increased Tnni1 and Acta1 mRNA levels in both differentiated C2C12 and rat skeletal muscle cells in primary culture. Of these two, depolarization induced slow Ca2+ transients appear to have a role only in the regulation of Tnni1 transcriptional activity. We suggest that depolarization induced expression of a small set of genes may underlie Ca2+ dependent plasticity of skeletal muscle cells. J. Cell. Physiol. 210: 819–830, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.