1. This study evaluated the effect of a higher incubation temperature on body weight, plasma profile, histology and expression of myogenin (MYOG), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) genes in breast muscle of embryos and broilers from two commercial strains. 2. A total of 784 eggs from Ross 308 and Cobb 500 broiler breeder flocks were used. Half of the eggs per strain were incubated at control temperature (37.8 degrees C), whereas the other half were exposed to heat treatment (HT) of 38.8 degrees C between embryonic day (ED) 10 and 14, for 6 h/day. Embryos and chicks were sampled on ED 19 and at hatch. A total of 480, one-day-old chicks per strain and incubation temperature were reared up to 42 d post-hatch. 3. The HT increased hatch weight of Ross chicks and 42-d body weight of broilers from both strains. Lower plasma triacylglycerol levels were measured for HT embryos and broilers on ED 19 and 42 d post-hatch, respectively. HT reduced plasma T-3 levels in Ross embryos and broilers for the same periods. Hepatic TBARS concentrations were elevated by HT compared to the control incubation. 4. The HT reduced breast muscle VEGFA gene expression of Cobb embryos on ED 19, whereas expression was stimulated in day-old chicks. At 42 d post-hatch, fibre area was increased by HT regardless of strain. Compared to the control incubation, HT increased the breast yield of Ross broilers and leg yield of Cobb. Ross-HT broilers had a higher pH at 24 h after slaughter and better water holding capacity than Cobb-HT broilers. 5. These results suggested that HT increased body weight, fibre area, IGF-I gene expression and lowered plasma triacylglycerol levels of broiler chickens from both strains at 42 d. However, HT influenced the expression of VEGF-A and MYOG genes and meat quality differently between the broiler strains.