This study was designed to evaluate markers of autolysis and to effectively assess the optimal maturity of red deer meat before trading, and utilization in the production of meat products. For these purposes, meat samples were collected from quadriceps of 2.5-4 years old female red deer, immediately processed for isolation of muscular fibers and were evaluated for the pH, water-binding power, activities of tissue enzymes and microstructure changes. The results of chemical analysis revealed the nature of protein substances, altered рН value of the meat and the intensity of glycolysis. All these parameters were indicative of autolysis process in the meat. The levels of water-binding capacity and structural-mechanical properties of red deer meat that occurred during the course of autolysis were further confirmed by the histological changes in the meat. Specifically, it was observed that post-mortem changes were characterized by multiple destruction and disintegration of fibers in the muscular tissue, and lysing of cores and their structures. Collectively, these results clearly articulate the irreversible destructive changes in the lean tissue. The data presented in this study highlight the mechanisms of the autolytic process and its influence both on the morphological composition of the lean tissue and on the shelf life of the meat.