Thermal manipulation (TM) of 39.5°C applied during mid-embryogenesis (embryonic d 7 to 16) has been proven to promote muscle development and enhance muscle growth and meat production in meat-type chickens. This study aimed to elucidate the cellular basis for this effect. Continuous TM or intermittent TM (for 12 h/d) increased myoblast proliferation manifested by higher (25 to 48%) myoblast number in the pectoral muscles during embryonic development but also during the first week posthatch. Proliferation ability of the pectoral-musclederived myoblasts in vitro was significantly higher in the TM treatments until embryonic d 15 (intermittent TM) or 13 (continuous TM) compared to that of controls, suggesting increased myogenic progeny reservoir in the muscle. However, the proliferation ability of myoblasts was lower in the TM treatments vs. control during the last days of incubation. This coincided with higher levels of myogenin expression in the muscle, indicating enhanced cell differentiation in the TM muscle. A similar pattern was observed posthatch: Myoblast proliferation was significantly higher in the TM chicks relative to controls during the peak of posthatch cell proliferation until d 6, followed by lower cell number 2 wk posthatch as myoblast number sharply decreases. Higher myogenin expression was observed in the TM chicks on d 6. This resulted in increased muscle growth, manifested by significantly higher relative weight of breast muscle in the embryo and posthatch. It can be concluded that temperature elevation during mid-term embryogenesis promotes myoblast proliferation, thus increasing myogenic progeny reservoir in the muscle, resulting in enhanced muscle growth in the embryo and posthatch.