This study aimed to detect variability in CAST, CAPN1 and CAPN3 porcine genes and to investigate the effect of CAST and CAPN1 polymorphisms on the activity of native and autolyzed μ-calpain and m-calpain, measured from 1 to 72 h post-mortem in Longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle of 30 pigs. Effects of polymorphisms on meat quality parameter such as pH, color and drip loss were also evaluated. Samples carrying CAST EU137105:g.76,872AA genotype showed higher autolyzed μ-calpain activity 24 and 72 h post-mortem, as well as lower drip loss values. Expression of CAST, CAPN1 and CAPN3 was assessed in LD muscles divergent for shear force. Higher CAST and CAPN3 expression was found in LD with high shear force (P < 0.2), confirming a direct role for calpastatin but not for calpain 3 in meat tenderization. In conclusion, CAST gene affected post-mortem activation time of calpain and drip loss.