Rodent skeletal muscle mitochondrial DNA has been shown to be a potential site of oxidative damage during aging. Caloric restriction (CR) is reported to reduce oxidative stress and prolong life expectancy in rodents. Gene expression profiling and measurement of mitochondrial ATP production capacity were performed in skeletal muscle of male rats after feeding them either a control diet or calorie-restricted diet (60% of control diet) for 36 wk to determine the potential mechanism of the beneficial effects of CR. CR enhanced the transcripts of genes involved in reactive oxygen free radical scavenging function, tissue development, and energy metabolism while decreasing expression of those genes involved in signal transduction, stress response, and structural and contractile proteins. Real-time PCR measurements confirmed the changes in transcript levels of cytochrome-c oxidase III, superoxide dismutase (SOD)1, and SOD2 that were noted by the microarray approach. Mitochondrial ATP production and citrate synthase were unaltered by the dietary changes. We conclude that CR alters transcript levels of several genes in skeletal muscle and that mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle remains unaltered by the dietary intervention. Alterations in transcripts of many genes involved in reactive oxygen scavenging function may contribute to the increase in longevity reported with CR.