The results of previous research have shown that passive muscle stretching can diminish the peak force output of subsequent maximal isometric, concentric and stretch-shortening contractions. The aim of this study was to establish whether the deleterious effects of passive stretching seen in laboratory settings would be manifest in a performance setting. Sixteen members (11 males, 5 females) of a Division I NCAA track athletics team performed electronically timed 20 m sprints with and without prior stretching of the legs. The experiment was done as part of each athlete's Monday work-out programme. Four different stretch protocols were used, with each protocol completed on a different day. Hence, the test period lasted 4 weeks. The four stretching protocols were no-stretch of either leg (NS), both legs stretched (BS), forward leg in the starting position stretched (FS) and rear leg in the starting position stretched (RS). Three stretching exercises (hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch, calf stretch) were used for the BS, FS and RS protocols. Each stretching exercise was performed four times, and each time the stretch was maintained for 30 s. The BS, FS and RS protocols induced a significant (P < 0.05) increase (approximately 0.04 s) in the 20 m time. Thus, it appears that pre-event stretching might negatively impact the performance of high-power short-term exercise.