The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of recovery mode (active/passive) on time spent at high percentage of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) i.e. above 90% of VO2max (t90VO2max) and above 95% of VO2max (t95VO2max) during a single short intermittent session. Eight endurance-trained male adolescents (15.9 +/- 1.4 years) performed three field tests until exhaustion: a graded test to determine their VO2max (57.4 +/- 6.1 ml min(-1) kg(-1)), and maximal aerobic velocity (MAV; 17.9 +/- 0.4 km h(-1)), and in a random order, two intermittent exercises consisting of repeated 30 s runs at 105% of MAV alternated with 30 s passive (IE(P)) or active recovery (IE(A), 50% of MAV). Time to exhaustion (t(lim)) was significantly longer for IE(P) than for IE(A) (2145 +/- 829 vs. 1072 +/- 388 s, P < 0.01). No difference was found in t90VO2max and t95VO2max between IE(P) (548 +/- 499-316 +/- 360 s) and IE(A) (746 +/- 417-459 +/- 332 s). However, when expressed as a percentage of t(lim), t90VO2max and t95VO2max were significantly longer (P < 0.001 and P < 0.05, respectively) during IE(A) (67.7 +/- 19%-42.1 +/- 27%) than during IE(P) (24.2 +/- 19%-13.8 +/- 15%). Our results demonstrated no influence of recovery mode on absolute t90VO2max or t95VO2max mean values despite significantly longer t(lim) values for IE(P) than for IE(A). In conclusion, passive recovery allows a longer running time (t(lim)) for a similar time spent at a high percentage of VO2max.