Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) catalyses the hydrolysis of myocellular triacylglycerol (MCTG), which is a potential energy source during exercise. Therefore, it is important to elucidate the regulation of HSL activity in human skeletal muscle during exercise. The main purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of 5'AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the regulation of muscle HSL activity and Ser565 phosphorylation (the presumed AMPK target site) in healthy, moderately trained men during 60 min bicycling (65%). Alpha2AMPK activity during exercise was manipulated by studying subjects with either low (LG) or high (HG) muscle glycogen content. HSL activity was distinguished from the activity of other neutral lipases by immunoinhibition of HSL using an anti-HSL antibody. During exercise a 62% higher (P < 0.01) alpha2AMPK activity in LG than in HG was paralleled by a similar difference (61%, P < 0.01) in HSL Ser565 phosphorylation but without any difference between trials in HSL activity or MCTG hydrolysis. HSL activity was increased (117%, P < 0.05) at 30 min of exercise but not at 60 min of exercise. In both trials, HSL phosphorylation on Ser563 (a presumed PKA target site) was not increased by exercise despite a fourfold increase (P < 0.001) in plasma adrenaline. ERK1/2 phosphorylation was increased by exercise in both trials (P < 0.001) and was higher in LG than in HG both at rest and during exercise (P = 0.06). In conclusion, the present study suggests that AMPK phosphorylates HSL on Ser565 in human skeletal muscle during exercise with reduced muscle glycogen. Apparently, HSL Ser565 phosphorylation by AMPK during exercise had no effect on HSL activity. Alternatively, other factors including ERK may have counterbalanced any effect of AMPK on HSL activity.