Both stable isotope methodology and fluorescence microscopy were applied to define the use of intramuscular triglyceride (IMTG) stores as a substrate source during exercise on a whole-body as well as on a fibre type-specific intramyocellular level in trained male cyclists. Following an overnight fast, eight subjects were studied at rest, during 120 min of moderate intensity exercise (60 % maximal oxygen uptake capacity (VO2,max)) and 120 min of post-exercise recovery. Continuous infusions of [U-13C]palmitate and [6,6-2H2]glucose were administered at rest and during subsequent exercise to quantify whole-body plasma free fatty acid (FFA) and glucose oxidation rates and the contribution of other fat sources (sum of muscle- plus lipoprotein-derived TG) and muscle glycogen to total energy expenditure. Fibre type-specific intramyocellular lipid content was determined in muscle biopsy samples collected before, immediately after and 2 h after exercise. At rest, fat oxidation provided 66 +/- 5 % of total energy expenditure, with FFA and other fat sources contributing 48 +/- 6 and 17 +/- 3 %, respectively. FFA oxidation rates increased during exercise, and correlated well with the change in plasma FFA concentrations. Both the use of other fat sources and muscle glycogen declined with the duration of exercise, whereas plasma glucose production and utilisation increased (P < 0.001). On average, FFA, other fat sources, plasma glucose and muscle glycogen contributed 28 +/- 3, 15 +/- 2, 12 +/- 1 and 45 +/- 4 % to total energy expenditure during exercise, respectively. Fluorescence microscopy revealed a 62 +/- 7 % net decline in muscle lipid content following exercise in the type I fibres only, with no subsequent change during recovery. We conclude that IMTG stores form an important substrate source during moderate intensity exercise in endurance-trained male athletes following an overnight fast, with the oxidation rate of muscle- plus lipoprotein-derived TG being decreased with the duration of exercise.