To determine the average tenderness and sensory ratings of beef subprimal cuts sold in retail cases across the United States, retail cuts were purchased through typical retail outlets in 14 metropolitan cities and transported to Texas A&M University for sensory and Warner-Bratzler shear analysis. The overall mean shear force for all cuts was 3.65 kg, and the mean shear force values for chuck, rib, loin, and round cuts were 3.72, 3.36, 3.17, and 4.31 kg, respectively. No difference (P greater than .05) in tenderness was detected among the cuts from the rib. Mean palatability ratings and shear force values of top loin steaks were similar to those of rib cuts. Top sirloin steaks were tougher (P less than .05) and received the lowest sensory ratings compared with other loin cuts. Approximately two to three times as many round and chuck steaks had shear force values in excess of 4.6 kg compared with their roast counterparts. In all cases, roasts tended to be more tender than steaks from the same subprimal source. USDA Choice chuck retail cuts, compared to Select and No-roll chuck cuts, had approximately 10% fewer cuts with shear force values in excess of 4.0 kg. More work is needed to improve meat tenderness, primarily for retail cuts from the round and chuck primals. Future research must investigate the interaction of antemortem and postmortem factors associated with variation in beef tenderness.