The influence of tapering on the metabolic and performance parameters in endurance cyclists was investigated. Cyclists (n = 25) trained 5 days.week-1, 60 min.day-1, at 75-85% maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) for 8 weeks and were then randomly assigned to a taper group: 4D (4 days; n = 7), 8D (8 days; n = 6), CON (control, 4 days rest; n = 6), NOTAPER (non-taper, continued training; n = 6). Muscle biopsy specimens taken before and after training and tapering were analysed for carnitine palmityltransferase (CPT), citrate synthase, beta-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase (HOAD), cytochrome oxidase (CYTOX), lactate dehydrogenase, glycogen and protein. Significant increases in VO2max (6%), a 60-min endurance cycle test (34.5%), oxidative enzymes (77-178%), glycogen (35%) and protein (34%) occurred following training. After the taper, HOAD and CPT decreased 25% (P less than 0.05) and 26% respectively, in the CON. Post-taper CYTOX values were different (P less than 0.05) for 4D and 8D compared with CON. Muscle glycogen levels were increased (P less than 0.05) after tapering in the 4D, 8D and CON, but decreased in NOTAPER. Similarly, power output at ventilation threshold was significantly increased in the 4D (27.4 W) and 8D (27 W) groups, but decreased (22 W) in the NOTAPER. These findings suggest that tapering elicited a physiological adaptation by altering oxidative enzymes and muscle glycogen levels. Such an adaptation may influence endurance cycling during a laboratory performance test.