Apoptosis or programmed cell death is a genetically controlled response of cells to commit suicide and is associated with DNA fragmentation or laddering. The common inducers of apoptosis include Ca2+i and oxygen free radicals/oxidative stress, which are also implicated in the pathogenesis of exercise-induced myopathies. To examine training-induced apoptosis, Thoroughbred horses were subjected to 3 months training programme on a treadmill. At the end of the training programme venous blood samples were taken for a creatine kinase (CK) assay. In addition, muscle biopsy samples were obtained for a membrane lipid peroxidation measurement by malondialdehyde (MDA) assay and for apoptosis detection. Apoptosis was studied by visualising the apoptotic myocytes on the paraffin sections by the modified TUNEL method. DNA laddering was evaluated by subjecting the DNA obtained from the biopsies to 1.5% agarose gel electrophoresis. There was a significant increase (P<0.05) of protein-bound MDA, and a nonsignificant trend (P = 0.14) for the control group to have higher levels of CK compared to the trained group. Under light microscopy, percentage of the TUNEL positive cells was higher (P<0.001) in the training group. This result was corroborated with the findings of DNA fragmentation by gel electrophoresis, which showed higher ladders of DNA band at the same group. In conclusion, these results clearly demonstrate that there is training-induced apoptosis in skeletal muscle. It is probable that apoptosis allows the work/recovery/rebound/supercompensation cycle, when unaccustomed muscle cells activate programmed cell death and are replaced by new and stronger cells, which is the mechanism for training-induced increases in fitness.