This study evaluated the influence of a controllable and painless stress, conditioned bright-light active-avoidance, on the expression of myosin heavy chain (MHC) protein isoforms in two nape and three masticatory rat muscles: longissimus capitis (L), rectus capitis dorsalis major (R), anterior digastric (AD), anterior temporalis (AT) and masseter superficialis (MS). The effects of a concomitant antidepressant treatment with clomipramine (CMI) on the muscle structure were also investigated. The three adult fast MHC isoforms were detected in all muscles studied: MHC 2A, 2X and 2B. The AT structure was not significantly modified by stress either under saline or under CMI treatment. In the other muscles studied, the stress situation induced a marked increase in the relative expression of MHC 2B and a decrease in MHCs 2X and 2A, except in L in which the MHC 2A decrease did not reach a statistically significant level. Under controllable stress, the CMI treatment l ed to the same MHC profile in AT, L, R and AD as saline, except in L where the MHC 2X decrease was no longer statistically significant. However, in MS, under controllable stress and CMI treatment, the MHC distribution was significantly different from the stressed saline-treated group and became comparable to the control again. MHC 2B has a higher shortening velocity than MHC 2X, which has a higher one than MHC 2A. According to total MHC isoform expression, the controllable stress-induced transformations would thus lead to increased velocity of all five muscles studied except in AT. This latter seems, therefore, not very sensitive to environmental requirements. Our results indicate that controllable stress produces important changes in the contractile properties of nape and masticatory muscles. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the protective effect of CMI against muscle structure transformations induced by controllable stress in MS, and that these effects are muscl e type-specific.