Objective: To investigate whether sarcomeric dysfunction contributes to muscle weakness in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). Methods: Sarcomeric function was evaluated by contractile studies on demembranated single muscle fibers obtained from quadriceps muscle biopsies of 4 patients with FSHD and 4 healthy controls. The sarcomere length dependency of force was determined together with measurements of thin filament length using immunofluorescence confocal scanning laser microscopy. X-ray diffraction techniques were used to study myofilament lattice spacing. Results: FSHD muscle fibers produced only 70% of active force compared to healthy controls, a reduction which was exclusive to type II muscle fibers. Changes in force were not due to changes in thin filament length or sarcomere length. Passive force was increased 5- to 12-fold in both fiber types, with increased calcium sensitivity of force generation and decreased myofilament lattice spacing, indicating compensation by the sarcomeric protein titin. Conclusions: We have demonstrated a reduction in sarcomeric force in type II FSHD muscle fibers, and suggest compensatory mechanisms through titin stiffening. Based on these findings, we propose that sarcomeric dysfunction plays a critical role in the development of muscle weakness in FSHD. © 2013 American Academy of Neurology.