Triamcinolone (TR) causes type IIb fiber atrophy in the rat diaphragm, which is associated with changes in contractile properties. We investigated whether this is a direct effect of TR or the result of an accompanying loss of body and diaphragm weights. For 6 wk, adult rats received saline intramuscularly, TR (0.5 mg/kg im), or nutritional depletion (ND) that resulted in a similar (approximately 40%) reduction in body weight as TR. In these animals, the half-relaxation time of the diaphragm bundles increased, the force-frequency relationship shifted leftward, and the resistance to fatigue was increased. No histological changes were found in the ND diaphragm, in contrast to severe myogenic alterations in the TR diaphragm. Type IIb fiber cross-sectional area (CSA) in the TR diaphragm was reduced by 51%, whereas type I and IIa CSAs were unaffected. In the ND animals, the CSAs of type I, IIa, and IIb fibers were reduced by 31, 33, and 52%, respectively. Similar changes occurred in the deep part of the m. gastrocnemius. In conclusion, myogenic changes and selective type IIb fiber atrophy were caused by TR, whereas ND induced generalized fiber type atrophy without histological changes.