Skeletal muscle has been recognized as an endocrine organ, and muscle cell cultures express several cytokines with potential hormonal effects. Interleukin-8 (IL-8), a chemokine, which induces angiogenesis, is expressed in working muscles; however, the cell source of origin has not been identified. We aimed to elucidate if IL-8 protein is: (1) expressed in contracting muscle fibres and (2) whether there is a release of IL-8 from exercising muscle. Seventeen healthy male volunteers were included in two independent protocols: 3 h of ergometer bicycle exercise at 60% of VO2,max (n = 6) or rest (n = 5), and 3 h of two-legged knee-extensor exercise at 60% of maximal workload (n = 6). Repetitive muscle biopsy samples were obtained from the vastus lateralis in all experiments. A marked increase in IL-8 mRNA was found in muscle biopsy samples obtained after exercise. A marked IL-8 protein expression was demonstrated within the cytoplasm of muscle fibres in biopsy samples obtained in the recovery phase following 3 h of bicycle exercise, and the peak occurred 3-6 h postexercise. A small transient net release of IL-8 from working muscle was found at 1.5 h of knee-extensor exercise. However, the small release of IL-8 from muscle did not result in an increase in the systemic plasma concentration of IL-8, suggesting that muscle-derived IL-8 may play a local role, e.g. in angiogenesis.