The purpose of this study was to evaluate the limiting factors of maximal aerobic performance in endurance trained (TW) and sedentary (UW) women. Subjects performed four incremental tests on a cycle ergometer at sea level and in normobaric hypoxia corresponding to 1000, 2500 and 4500 m. Maximal oxygen uptake decrement (Delta VO2 max) was larger in TW at each altitude. Maximal heart rate and ventilation decreased at 4500 m in TW. Maximal cardiac output remained unchanged. In both groups, arterialized oxygen saturation (Sa'O2 max) decreased at and above 2500 m and maximal O2 transport (QaO2 max) decreased from 1000 m. At 4500 m, there was no more difference in QaO2 max between TW and UW. Mixed venous O2 pressure (PvO2 max) was lower and O2 extraction (O2ERmax) greater in TW at each altitude. The primary determinant factor of VO2 max decrement in moderate acute hypoxia in trained and untrained women is a reduced maximal O2 transport that cannot be compensate by tissue O2 extraction.