Five hundred thirty-six finishing pigs were placed on experiment for an average of 26 d prior to slaughter, to determine the effects of 5 mg ractopamine hydrochloride (RAC) per kg of diet on growth performance, carcass composition and the eating quality of pork. Treatments included a control diet similar to a western Canadian commercial finishing diet and a treatment diet containing 5 mg RAC kg-1 with elevated amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The experiment started when average animal weight was 86 kg; pigs were marketed at an average liveweight of 118 kg. Two pigs were selected from each of 32 pens in week 4 of the experiment, for detailed carcass and meat quality evaluation, providing 16 pigs per gender per treatment. RAC-fed pigs reached market weight 4 d sooner (P 13% faster (P backfat and 2.5 mm thicker loins (P but RAC-fed pigs had lower CIE a* and b* measurements (P or overall acceptability (P>0.10), but increased Warner-Bratzler shear force and reduced taste panel tenderness slightly (P improve carcass composition. Minimal impact on pork quality can also be expected with the use of RAC fed at this level.