This study examined the effects of microbial transglutaminase (MTG: 3.1 mg/ml) on chicken skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles: the meat containing the different muscle types was shaped into sausages and treated at 40 degrees C and/or 78 degrees C for 30 min. Although the three muscle types were obtained from the same bird, the effects of MTG addition were not uniform. All the muscle types showed a significant increase in the breaking strength (P < 0.01), but skeletal muscle exhibited the maximum increase. All samples showed a decrease in the fluorescence intensity and a significant reduction in the concentration of proteins that were extracted in a high ionic strength solution (P < 0.05). Scanning electron microscopy images and histological studies revealed that different muscle types had different physical structures and frameworks after MTG treatment, which is a reflection of the differences in the reaction specificity of MTG with different muscle proteins. Histological studies revealed that the reactions of MTG with meat proteins are both exogenous and endogenous. Cooking loss data suggested that MTG did not have any negative effect on water retention during cooking. MTG appears to be a functional and contributive substance since the results suggest that MTG can function on all muscle types that are mechanically processed for different industrial applications. MTG aggregates muscle proteins in different ways that improve their organoleptic properties such as texture, appearance, and water retention. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.