The value of blood lactate concentration (BLC) measured during incremental load tests in predicting maximal lactate-steady-state (MLSS) workload has rarely been investigated in children. In 17 children and 18 adults MLSS was 4.1 +/- 0.9 mmol l(-1). Workload at BLC of 3.0 mmol l(-1) determined during an incremental load test explained about 80% of the variance (p < .001) and best predicted MLSS workload independent of age. This was despite the increase in power per time related to maximum incremental load test power being higher (p < .001) in children than in adults. The BLC response to given exercise intensities is faster in children without affecting MLSS.