The purpose of this study was to determine how bolus size alters the human chewing cycle. This prospective within-subject design evaluated chewing cycles of 38 young adults between 20 and 38 years of age (21 males and 17 females). An optoelectric jaw tracking system was used to record movements of the chin during unilateral (right sided) chewing of four randomly ordered bolus sizes (1, 2, 4 and 8 g) of gum. Using each subject's 10 most representative cycles, multilevel statistical procedures were used to evaluate jaw kinematics. The results showed that bolus size has no consistent effect on opening, closing or total cycle duration. Cycle excursions increased significantly with increasing bolus size. With increasing bolus sizes, chewing cycle excursions along the three axes increased 52-115%. The greatest differences between bolus sizes occurred when the jaw was changing direction (i.e. passing from opening to closing and from working to balancing sides). However, the increases were proportionate and the shape of the chewing cycle was maintained. In order to maintain cycle duration while increasing excursive ranges, jaw velocities increased significantly, with the greatest differences occurring at approximately 70% of opening and 30% of closing. We conclude that humans adapt to larger bolus sizes by increasing chewing cycle perimeter and by increasing cycle speed, while maintaining cycle shape and duration.