Myosatellite cells play an important role in mammalian muscle regeneration as they differentiate and fuse with mature fibers. In fish, they also contribute to postnatal growth and the formation of new fibers. The relative conservation of fish systems, however, is not well known nor are the underlying mechanisms that control myosatellite cell differentiation. We therefore characterized this process in primary cells from rainbow trout and determined the effects of two known regulators in mammalian systems: IGF-I and myostatin. Unlike mammalian cell lines, subconfluent and proliferating trout myosatellite cells differentiated spontaneously and at a rate proportional to serum concentration. The expression of key myogenic markers (Myf5, MyoD1, myogenin, and MLC) and of the different myostatin paralogs (MSTN-1a/1b/2a) increased with serum-stimulated differentiation, although MSTN-1a expression was consistently higher than that of the other paralogs. In addition, MSTN-2a was only expressed as an unprocessed transcript. In low serum, where differentiation is normally suppressed, recombinant myostatin stimulated myogenic marker expression over time. The opposite was true for IGF-I as it stimulated proliferation, not differentiation, and additionally antagonized myostatin. This includes myostatin's effects on marker expression and on the autoregulation of MSTN-1a and -1b expression. These results conflict with studies using mammalian cell lines and suggest, alternatively, that myostatin is a positive, not negative, regulator of myosatellite cell differentiation. Mammalian myoblasts differentiate when confluent and with serum withdrawal, which differs considerably from how myosatellite cells differentiate in vivo. Thus the primary rainbow trout myosatellite cell culture system appears to be more physiologically relevant.