Lightweight artificial muscle fibers that can match the large tensile stroke of natural muscles have been elusive. In particular, low stroke, limited cycle life, and inefficient energy conversion have combined with high cost and hysteretic performance to restrict practical use. In recent years, a new class of artificial muscles, based on highly twisted fibers, has emerged that can deliver more than 2,000 J/kg of specific work during muscle contraction, compared with just 40 J/kg for natural muscle. Thermally actuated muscles made from ordinary polymer fibers can deliver long-life, hysteresis-free tensile strokes of more than 30% and torsional actuation capable of spinning a paddle at speeds of more than 100,000 rpm. In this perspective, we explore the mechanisms and potential applications of present twisted fiber muscles and the future opportunities and challenges for developing twisted muscles having improved cycle rates, efficiencies, and functionality. We also demonstrate artificial muscle sewing threads and textiles and coiled structures that exhibit nearly unlimited actuation strokes. In addition to robotics and prosthetics, future applications include smart textiles that change breathability in response to temperature and moisture and window shutters that automatically open and close to conserve energy.