Force responses to fast ramp stretches of various amplitude and velocity, applied during tetanic contractions, were measured in single intact fibers from frog tibialis anterior muscle. Experiments were performed at 14 degrees C at approximately 2.1 microm sarcomere length on fibers bathed in Ringer's solution containing various concentrations of 2,3-butanedione monoxime (BDM) to greatly reduce the isometric tension. The fast tension transient produced by the stretch was followed by a period, lasting until relaxation, during which the tension remained constant to a value that greatly exceeded the isometric tension. The excess of tension was termed "static tension," and the ratio between the force and the accompanying sarcomere length change was termed "static stiffness." The static stiffness was independent of the active tension developed by the fiber, and independent of stretch amplitude and stretching velocity in the whole range tested; it increased with sarcomere length in the range 2.1-2.8 microm, to decrease again at longer lengths. Static stiffness increased well ahead of tension during the tetanus rise, and fell ahead of tension during relaxation. These results suggest that activation increased the stiffness of some sarcomeric structure(s) outside the cross-bridges.