To study the function of the tongue and the coordination among jaw, tongue, and hyoid muscles during chewing and swallowing, we recorded the electromyographic activities from the masseter (Mas), digastric (Dig), mylohyoid (Myl), thyrohyoid (Thy), genioglossus (Gg) and styloglossus (Sg) muscles as well as jaw movement trajectories in the freely behaving rabbit. Three phases were identified in the chewing cycle (fast- and slow-closing and opening phases). The Gg (main tongue protruder) was active synchronously with the Dig during opening. The Sg (tongue retractor) showed two peaks in each cycle, one in the opening phase and the other in the closing phase. The latter may have a role in retracting the tongue during jaw closing. The co-contraction of the antagonists (i.e. Gg and Sg) during opening may contribute to shape the tongue to be appropriate to gather the foodstuff. In the swallowing cycle, five phases were identified, two in the closing phase and three in the opening phase. Regression analysis revealed that swallowing cycles had a longer cycle duration than that of the chewing cycles due to an extra phase (a pause) inserted in the opening phase, where there was a small co-activation in the jaw opening and closing muscles. The findings suggest that the swallowing center affects masticatory center in the central nervous system, and may also support the view that the masticatory burst timing begins with the Dig activities in the middle of the opening phase.