This study investigated how jaw kinematics, including cycle duration, three-dimensional (3-D) excursive ranges and velocities, and cycle shape, changed with increasing hardness of chewing gum. Twenty-six subjects (13 males and 13 females; mean age 23.6 +/- 2.5 years) with Class I normal occlusion were asked to chew two brands of gum with differing hardness. Jaw motion during chewing was tracked with an Optotrak camera at 100 Hz, and all movements were recorded as pure 3-D mandibular movements relative to Frankfort horizontal. Cycle duration did not change significantly with harder gum, but 3-D excursive ranges and velocities increased, except during the occlusal phases of the chewing. Cycle shape was similar for hard and soft gum, but the overall size of the cycle was larger with hard gum. These results suggest that greater muscular effort when chewing harder gum produces a greater acceleration of the mandible in all phases except when the harder gum slows the mandible during the occlusal phases.