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In this study, a highly significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) for meat percentage, eye muscle area (EMA) and silverside percentage was found on cattle chromosome 2 at 0–15 cM, a region containing the positional candidate gene growth differentiation factor 8 (GDF8), which has the common alias myostatin (MSTN). Loss-of-function mutations in the MSTN gene are known to cause an extreme ‘double muscling’ phenotype in cattle. In this study, highly significant associations of MSTN with cattle carcass traits were found using maternally inherited MSTN haplotypes from outbred Limousin and Jersey cattle in a linkage disequilibrium analysis. A previously reported transversion in MSTN (AF320998.1:g.433C>A), resulting in the amino acid substitution of phenylalanine by leucine at position 94 of the protein sequence (F94L), was the only polymorphism consistently related to increased muscling. Overall, the size of the g.433C>A additive effect on carcass traits was moderately large, with the g.433A allele found to be associated with a 5.5% increase in silverside percentage and EMA and a 2.3% increase in total meat percentage relative to the g.433C allele. The phenotypic effects of the g.433A allele were partially recessive. This study provides strong evidence that a MSTN genotype can produce an intermediate, non-double muscling phenotype, which should be of significant value for beef cattle producers.