Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate the delayed responses and changes of gradually lengthened masseter muscles of rabbit mandibles. Study Design: Unilateral lengthening of rabbit mandibles was performed in 18 New Zealand rabbits for 7 days at the rate of 1 mm day-1. Mandibles of animals were removed at months 3, 4, and 6 after distraction. Biopsy samples of distracted and contralateral side masseter muscles were histopathologically evaluated and mean area of muscle fibers (MAF) was evaluated with histomorphometric methods. Results were statistically analyzed. Results: Mild to moderate atrophy of the fibers, and necrosis and myophagocytosis in some areas were the leading features at month 3 and which were decreased at month 4 in distracted side-muscle specimens, with no statistically significant differences when compared with non-distracted side muscles at the same periods. Almost completely, normal fibers were detected in distracted muscle specimens at month 6. Evidence of myopathic changes was found to disappear at month 6 and no significant difference was found in the MAF of distracted side muscles. Conclusion: This study showed that the masseter muscle could adapt to gradual lengthening of the mandible within 6 months. Regenerative features and some degree of atrophic changes that could be observed at months 3 and 4 disappeared at month 6, with adaptation of the fibers. © 2008 Blackwell Munksgaard.