In general, there is a higher incidence of musculoskeletal injuries during physical activity in women than in men. We hypothesized that in women rates of tendon collagen synthesis would be lower than in men at rest and after exercise, especially in the later luteal phase when estrogen and progesterone concentrations are higher than the early follicular phase. We studied tendon collagen fractional synthesis rate (FSR) in 15 young, healthy female subjects in either the early follicular (n = 8) or the late luteal phase (n = 7) 72 h after an acute bout of one-legged exercise (60 min kicking at 67% workload maximum) (72 h) and compared the results with those previously obtained for men. Samples were taken from the patellar tendon in both the exercised and rested legs to determine collagen FSR by the incorporation of [15N]proline into tendon collagen hydroxyproline. There was no effect of menstrual phase on tendon collagen synthesis either at rest or after exercise. However, there was a significant difference between women and men at rest (women = 0.025 +/- 0.002%/h, men = 0.045 +/- 0.008%/h; P < 0.05) and 72 h after exercise (women = 0.027 +/- 0.005%/h; men = 0.058 +/- 0.008%/h). Furthermore, rest and 72-h tendon collagen synthesis were not different in women, whereas in men tendon collagen synthesis remained significantly elevated 72 h after exercise. It is concluded that both in the resting state and after exercise, tendon collagen FSR is lower in women than in men, which may contribute to a lower rate of tissue repair after exercise.