Cigarette smoke components directly alter muscle fatigue resistance and intracellular muscle fibre Ca2+ handling independent of a change in lung structure. Changes in muscle vascular structure are associated with a depletion of satellite cells. Sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ uptake is substantially impaired in myofibres during fatiguing contractions in mice treated with cigarette smoke extract.Cigarette smokers exhibit exercise intolerance before a decline in respiratory function. In the present study, the direct effects of cigarette smoke on limb muscle function were tested by comparing cigarette smoke delivered to mice by weekly injections of cigarette smoke extract (CSE), or nose-only exposure (CS) 5 days each week, for 8 weeks. Cigarette smoke delivered by either route did not alter pulmonary airspace size. Muscle fatigue measured in situ was 50% lower in the CSE and CS groups than in control. This was accompanied by 34% and 22% decreases in soleus capillary-to-fibre ratio of the CSE and CS groups, respectively, and a trend for fewer skeletal muscle actin-positive arterioles (P = 0.07). In addition, fewer quiescent satellite cells (Nes+Pax7+) were associated with soleus fibres in mice with skeletal myofibre VEGF gene deletion (decreased 47%) and CS exposed (decreased 73%) than with control fibres. Contractile properties of isolated extensor digitorum longus and soleus muscles were impaired. In flexor digitorum brevis myofibres isolated from CSE mice, fatigue resistance was diminished by 43% compared to control and CS myofibres, and this was accompanied by a pronounced slowing in relaxation, an increase in intracellular Ca2+ accumulation, and a slowing in sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ uptake. These data suggest that cigarette smoke components may impair hindlimb muscle vascular structure, fatigue resistance and myofibre calcium handling, and these changes ultimately affect contractile efficiency of locomotor muscles independent of a change in lung function.