In this study on decapod crustaceans, we examined the Ca2+- and Sr2+-activation properties of skeletal muscle fibres from an identified proprioceptor, the thoracic coxal muscle receptor organ (TCMRO) and its extrafusal promotor muscle fibres. Proprioceptors and extrafusal muscles were isolated from a walking leg from the crayfish (Cherax destructor) and the rear swimming leg of the mud crab (Scylla serrata). The crayfish and mud crab TCMROs had very low Hill coefficient (n(Ca)) values (1.86 +/- 0.08 and 1.64 +/- 0.03, respectively). In comparison to other skeletal muscle fibre types these low Hill coefficients would enable the length of the receptor muscles to be finely controlled over a wide range of [Ca2+]. Maximum force was found to be significantly lower in the TCMROs (crayfish: 5.76 +/- 0.98; crab: 4.80 +/- 0.56 Ncm(-2)), compared to their associated extrafusal promotor muscle fibres (crayfish: 10.69 +/- 1.63; crab: 20.07 +/- 1.98 Ncm(-2)), which is consistent with their sensory role. The muscle fibres of the crayfish TCMRO had faster contractile properties than the mud crab TCMRO, we discuss how these contractile properties relate to the type of locomotion undergone by each leg. The mud crab 'red' promotor and all crayfish promotor fibres were characterised as slow with low Hill coefficients (n(C)a: crayfish: 3.22 +/- 0.29; crab: 3.34 +/- 0.29) and a contractile apparatus with a high sensitivity to Ca2+ (pCa(50): crayfish: 6.42 +/- 0.03; crab: 6.18 +/- 0.03). In contrast the 'white' mud crab promotor fibres from the swimming leg had contractile properties that were characteristic of fast fibres with a high mean Hill coefficient (n(C)a: 5.27 +/- 0.76) and a lower Ca2+ sensitivity (pCa(50): 6.03 +/- 0.03). The sensitivity of the contractile apparatus to Sr2+ was very low (range of mean pSr(50): 4.23 +/- 0.03-3.48 +/- 0.06) and low force levels were produced in comparison to that produced with Ca2+. The results of this study show that the muscle fibres of the sensory receptor, produce less force and have been adapted to enable the length of the receptor to be finely set in relation to the length of the extrafusal muscle. We discuss how the striated fibres of the receptor have been adapted to perform a sensory role and how this is related to the type of locomotion undergone by the legs. We also discuss how the fibre types of the extrafusal muscle have adapted to the mode of locomotion.