Modern broilers show dramatic growth over a short interval and contribute directly to the success of the poultry meat industry. The growth performance of commercial broilers is a result of genetic selection for "performance traits", such as body size, meat yield, and feed conversion rate. However, due to the rapid growth rate of modern commercial broilers, several growth-related conditions have arisen, increasing economic losses and consumer concerns. Among the most economically consequential is the muscle disorder called wooden breast. Together with associated myopathies such as white striping and spaghetti meat, wooden breast is causing losses of $200 million a year in the U.S. alone and occurs worldwide. No causative factors are known for wooden breast to date. Wooden breast can affect over 80% of broilers in a flock, yet no methods of amelioration are currently available. Overall, the evidence suggests that wooden breast is a genetic, age-dependent condition associated with fast growth rate. The primary features of wooden breast are muscle degeneration and fibrosis, high levels of oxidative stress, hypoxia, and altered energy metabolism. Recent work has also implicated reduced pectoral vessel density in the pathogenesis of wooden breast. This review examines the history of myopathies in commercial broilers and the relationship of myopathies to metabolism and oxidative performance. This review summarizes the foundational knowledge of wooden breast and provides a platform for further investigation of wooden breast.