The MDX mouse is an animal model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a human disease marked by an absence of the cytoskeletal protein, dystrophin. We hypothesized that 1) dystrophin serves a complex mechanical role in skeletal muscles by contributing to passive compliance, viscoelastic properties, and contractile force production and 2) age is a modulator of passive mechanics of skeletal muscles of the MDX mouse. Using an in vitro biaxial mechanical testing apparatus, we measured passive length-tension relationships in the muscle fiber direction as well as transverse to the fibers, viscoelastic stress-relaxation curves, and isometric contractile properties. To avoid confounding secondary effects of muscle necrosis, inflammation, and fibrosis, we used very young 3-wk-old mice whose muscles reflected the prefibrotic and prenecrotic state. Compared with controls, 1) muscle extensibility and compliance were greater in both along fiber direction and transverse to fiber direction in MDX mice and 2) the relaxed elastic modulus was greater in dystrophin-deficient diaphragms. Furthermore, isometric contractile muscle stress was reduced in the presence and absence of transverse fiber passive stress. We also examined the effect of age on the diaphragm length-tension relationships and found that diaphragm muscles from 9-mo-old MDX mice were significantly less compliant and less extensible than those of muscles from very young MDX mice. Our data suggest that the age of the MDX mouse is a determinant of the passive mechanics of the diaphragm; in the prefibrotic/prenecrotic stage, muscle extensibility and compliance, as well as viscoelasticity, and muscle contractility are altered by loss of dystrophin.