In Drosophila, fibrillar flight muscles (IFMs) enable flight, while tubular muscles mediate other body movements. Here, we use RNA-sequencing and isoform-specific reporters to show that spalt major (salm) determines fibrillar muscle physiology by regulating transcription and alternative splicing of a large set of sarcomeric proteins. We identify the RNA-binding protein Arrest (Aret, Bruno) as downstream of salm. Aret shuttles between the cytoplasm and nuclei and is essential for myofibril maturation and sarcomere growth of IFMs. Molecularly, Aret regulates IFM-specific splicing of various salm-dependent sarcomeric targets, including Stretchin and wupA (TnI), and thus maintains muscle fiber integrity. As Aret and its sarcomeric targets are evolutionarily conserved, similar principles may regulate mammalian muscle morphogenesis.