The locomotor system in sharks has been investigated for many decades, starting with the earliest kinematic studies by Sir James Gray in the 1930s. Early work on axial muscle anatomy also included sharks, and the first demonstration of the functional significance of red and white muscle fibre types was made on spinal preparations in sharks. Nevertheless, studies on teleosts dominate the literature on fish swimming. The purpose of this article is to review the current knowledge of muscle function and swimming in sharks, by considering their morphological features related to swimming, the anatomy and physiology of the axial musculature, kinematics and muscle dynamics, and special features of warm-bodied lamnids. In addition, new data are presented on muscle activation in fast-starts. Finally, recent developments in tracking technology that provide insights into shark swimming performance in their natural environment are highlighted.