Level locomotion in small, agile lizards is characterized by intermittent bursts of fast running. These require very large accelerations, often reaching several times g. The power input required to increase kinetic energy is calculated to be as high as 214 W kg(-1) muscle (+/-20 W kg(-1) s.e.; averaged over the complete locomotor cycle) and 952 W kg(-1) muscle (+/-89 W kg(-1) s.e.; instantaneous peak power). In vitro muscle experiments prove that these exceptional power requirements can be met directly by the lizard's muscle fibres alone; there is no need for mechanical power amplifying mechanisms.