Low energy laser irradiation (LELI) has been shown to promote skeletal muscle cell activation and proliferation in primary cultures of satellite cells as well as in myogenic cell lines. Here, we have extended these studies to isolated myofibers. These constitute the minimum viable functional unit of the skeletal muscle, thus providing a close model of in vivo regeneration of muscle tissue. We show that LELI stimulates cell cycle entry and the accumulation of satellite cells around isolated single fibers grown under serumfree conditions and that these effects act synergistically with the addition of serum. Moreover, for the first time we show that LELI promotes the survival of fibers and their adjacent cells, as well as cultured myogenic cells, under serum-free conditions that normally lead to apoptosis. In both systems, expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl- 2 was markedly increased, whereas expression of the pro-apoptotic protein BAX was reduced. In culture, these changes were accompanied by a reduction in the expression of p53 and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21, reflecting the small decrease in viable cells 24 hours after irradiation. These findings implicate regulation of these factors as part of the protective role of LELI against apoptosis. Taken together, our findings are of critical importance in attempts to improve muscle regeneration following injury.