The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that athletes having a slower oxygen uptake ( VO(2)) kinetics would benefit more, in terms of time spent near VO(2max), from an increase in the intensity of an intermittent running training (IT). After determination of VO(2max), vVO(2max) (i.e. the minimal velocity associated with VO(2max) in an incremental test) and the time to exhaustion sustained at vVO(2max) ( T(lim)), seven well-trained triathletes performed in random order two IT sessions. The two IT comprised 30-s work intervals at either 100% (IT(100%)) or 105% (IT(105%)) of vVO(2max) with 30-s recovery intervals at 50% of vVO(2max) between each repeat. The parameters of the VO(2) kinetics (td(1), tau(1), A(1), td(2), tau(2), A(2), i.e. time delay, time constant and amplitude of the primary phase and slow component, respectively) during the T(lim) test were modelled with two exponential functions. The highest VO(2) reached was significantly lower ( P<0.01) in IT(100%) run at 19.8 (0.9) km(.)h(-1) [66.2 (4.6) ml(.)min(-1.)kg(-1)] than in IT(105%) run at 20.8 (1.0) km(.)h(-1) [71.1 (4.9) ml(.)min(-1.)kg(-1)] or in the incremental test [71.2 (4.2) ml(.)min(-1.)kg(-1)]. The time sustained above 90% of VO(2max) in IT(105%) [338 (149) s] was significantly higher ( P<0.05) than in IT(100%) [168 (131) s]. The average T(lim) was 244 (39) s, tau(1) was 15.8 (5.9) s and td(2) was 96 (13) s. tau(1) was correlated with the difference in time spent above 90% of VO(2max) ( r=0.91; P<0.01) between IT(105%) and IT(100%). In conclusion, athletes with a slower VO(2) kinetics in a vVO(2max) constant-velocity test benefited more from the 5% rise of IT work intensity, exercising for longer above 90% of VO(2max) when the IT intensity was increased from 100 to 105% of vVO(2max).