Research in the area of the pale, soft and exudative (PSE) pork and poultry meat is reviewed in this article with an emphasis on genetic, biochemical and metabolic factors contributing to the problem. Over the past five decades, there has been much more work in the pork meat area where a few genetic markers have been identified, and are currently used to remove susceptible animals from the herd. Some of the markers are linked to aberrant calcium regulation in the early postmortem muscle. The poultry industry is still not at the point of using genetic marker(s); however, some recent work has revealed several potential markers. The review also discusses environmental factors such as antemortem stress and early postmortem processing practices (e.g. chilling rate) that can influence the development and severity of the PSE phenomenon. Some of these factors are known to cause protein denaturation at the early stage of postmortem and directly contribute to poor water-holding capacity and inferior texture in fresh meat and later in processed products. A newer hypothesis suggesting that variation in protein oxidation, in response to antemortem stress and early postmortem tissue environment, can contribute to development of PSE pork is also discussed. Finally, a few recommendations for future work are proposed.