1. This study examined the alterations in calcium release, calcium uptake and calcium ATPase activity of skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum in response to a bout of intense dynamic knee extensor exercise, and the relationship between these changes and alterations in muscle contractile characteristics in the human quadriceps. 2. In biopsy samples taken from the vastus lateralis, sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release and calcium uptake were significantly depressed (P < 0.01 and 0.05, respectively) immediately following the exercise with no alteration in the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase activity. 3. A 33 % reduction in the maximum voluntary isometric torque was found following the exercise, with reduced torques from electrically evoked isometric contractions at low frequencies of stimulation (10 and 20 Hz) but not at higher frequencies (50 and 100 Hz). 4. The depressed calcium release was correlated (P < 0.05) with a decreased ratio of torques generated at 20:50 Hz, indicating an involvement in low frequency fatigue; however, no correlations between the muscle relaxation times or rates of change of torque and calcium uptake were observed.