Adult skeletal muscle has a remarkable ability to regenerate following myotrauma. Because adult myofibers are terminally differentiated, the regeneration of skeletal muscle is largely dependent on a small population of resident cells termed satellite cells. Although this population of cells was identified 40 years ago, little is known regarding the molecular phenotype or regulation of the satellite cell. The use of cell culture techniques and transgenic animal models has improved our understanding of this unique cell population; however, the capacity and potential of these cells remain ill-defined. This review will highlight the origin and unique markers of the satellite cell population, the regulation by growth factors, and the response to physiological and pathological stimuli. We conclude by highlighting the potential therapeutic uses of satellite cells and identifying future research goals for the study of satellite cell biology.