We examined the difference in fiber type composition and cross-sectional areas during postnatal development in male rabbit jaw muscles and compared these with changes in leg muscles. The myosin heavy chain (MyHC) content of the fibers was determined by immunohistochemistry. No fiber type difference was found between the jaw muscles in 20-week-old rabbits. However, the way this adult fiber type composition was reached differed between the muscles. The deep temporalis, medial pterygoid, and superficial masseter displayed an increase in alpha fibers during early and a decrease during late postnatal development. Other jaw muscles displayed an increase in alpha fibers during early development only. In contrast, alpha fibers were not found in the soleus, in which fiber type changes were completed at week 4. The gastrocnemius muscle did not change its fiber type composition. Initially, fibers in jaw-opening muscles had larger cross-sectional areas than in other muscles, but they increased less during development. Although there were no large differences in the fiber type composition of muscles in young adult rabbits, large differences were found in the jaw muscles, but not in the leg muscles, during development. In part, these developmental changes in fiber percentages within the jaw muscles can be explained by functional modifications in this muscle group. In the present study, the deep temporalis, medial pterygoid, and superficial masseter showed the most dramatic percent changes in fibers during postnatal development. Copyright © 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.