Anecdotal observations suggest that the reduction in peak lactate accumulation in blood ([La]b peak) after exhausting exercise, in chronic hypoxia vs. normoxia, may be related to the duration of the exercise protocol, being less pronounced after short supramaximal exercise than after incremental exercise (IE) lasting several minutes. To test this hypothesis, six healthy male Caucasians (age 36.8 +/- 7.3, X +/- SD) underwent three exercise protocols on a cycle ergometer, at sea level (SL) and after 21 +/- 10 days at 5050 m altitude (ALT): (1) 10 s, (2) 30 s 'all out' exercise and (3) IE leading to exhaustion in approximately 20-25 min. 'Average' power output (P) was calculated for 10 or 30 s 'all out'; maximal power output (Pmax) was determined for IE. Lactate concentration in arterialized capillary blood ([La]b) was measured at rest and at different times during recovery; the highest [La]b during recovery was taken as [La]b peak. No significant differences in P were observed between SL and ALT, for either 10 or 30 s 'all out' exercise; Pmax during IE was significantly lower at ALT than at SL. [La]b peak after 10 s 'all out' was unaffected by chronic hypoxia (7.0 +/- 0.9 at ALT vs. 6.3 +/- 1.8 mmol x L(-1) at SL). After 30 s 'all out' the [La]b peak decrease, at ALT (10.6 +/- 0.6 mmol x L(-1)) vs. SL (12.9 +/- 1.4 mmol x L(-1)), was only approximately 50% of that observed for IE (6.7 +/- 1.6 mmol x L(-1) vs. 11.3 +/- 2.8 mmol x L(-1)). Muscle power output and blood lactate accumulation during short supramaximal exercise are substantially unaffected by chronic hypoxia.