Aims. The goal of this work is to infer the star formation properties and the mass assembly process of high redshift (0.3 ≤ z < 2.5) galaxies from their IR emission using the 24 μm band of MIPS-Spitzer. Methods. We used an updated version of the GOODS-MUSIC catalog, which has multiwavelength coverage from 0.3 to 24 μm and either spectroscopic or accurate photometric redshifts.We describe how the catalog has been extended by the addition of mid-IR fluxes derived from theMIPS 24 μm image.We compared two different estimators of the star formation rate (SFR hereafter). One is the total infrared emission derived from 24 μm, estimated using both synthetic and empirical IR templates. The other one is a multiwavelength fit to the full galaxy SED, which automatically accounts for dust reddening and age–star formation activity degeneracies. For both estimates, we computed the SFR density and the specific SFR. Results. We show that the two SFR indicators are roughly consistent, once the uncertainties involved are taken into account. However, they show a systematic trend, IR-based estimates exceeding the fit-based ones as the star formation rate increases. With this new catalog, we show that: a) at z > 0.3, the star formation rate is correlated well with stellar mass, and this relationship seems to steepen with redshift if one relies on IR–based estimates of the SFR; b) the contribution to the global SFRD by massive galaxies increases with redshift up to ≃ 2.5, more rapidly than for galaxies of lower mass, but appears to flatten at higher z; c) despite this increase, the most important contributors to the SFRD at any z are galaxies of about, or immediately lower than, the characteristic stellar mass; d) at z ≃ 2, massive galaxies are actively star-forming, with a median SFR ≃ 300M⊙yr−1. During this epoch, our targeted galaxies assemble a substantial part of their final stellar mass; e) the specific SFR (SSFR) shows a clear bimodal distribution. Conclusions. The analysis of the SFR density and the SSFR seems to support the downsizing scenario, according to which high mass galaxies have formed their stars earlier and more rapidly than their low mass counterparts. A comparison with renditions of theoretical simulations of galaxy formation and evolution indicates that these models follow the global increase in the SSFR with redshift and predict the existence of quiescent galaxies even at z > 1.5. However, the average SSFR is systematically underpredicted by all models considered.