The functionality of pre-rigor beef was investigated in terms of the effects of phosphate reduction and curing of hot-boned meat on the processing and sensory properties of relatively low-value muscles, M. infraspinatus (IS) and M. pectoralis profundus (PP), from the forequarter. Muscles were excised within 90 min post-mortem (HB) or, from chilled carcasses, 24 h post-mortem (CB), and were injected to 115% of green weight with brine containing phosphate and were vacuum tumbled continuously for 2 h. Hot-boning gave lower total yield of cooked meat for both muscles. Hot-boned PP joints had slightly higher (P<0.05) cook loss than cold-boned. Reduction of added phosphate (from sodium tri-polyphosphate) from 0.3% to 0.15% of cured meat had detrimental effects on colour; joints containing the conventional 0.3% were lighter (P<0.001) and redder for both muscles. Hot-boning gave PP joints which were rated less tender by sensory panels, corresponding with higher (P<0.001) hardness TPA values, higher (P<0.05) Warner-Bratzler shear force (WBSF) values and shorter (P<0.05) sarcomere lengths. Effects of phosphate level and boning method were less in IS joints. In these, hot-boning gave products that were rated by sensory panel as slightly more tender but there was no effect on TPA or WBSF values. Furthermore, total yields from hot-boned products did not reflect the expected increase in functionality and reducing added phosphate during processing had a detrimental effect in binding and forming of joints.