The aim of this study was to analyze the physiological responses to a tap dance choreography and to compare with those observed during a maximal treadmill exercise test, in tap dancers. Eight women (19.6 +/- 2.4 years; 162.3 +/- 4.4 cm; 54.0 +/- 2.3 kg; 20.5 +/- 1.4 kg.m; and 5.1 +/- 2.6 years of tap dance training) were submitted to the following procedures: (a) graded exercise test (GXT) on a treadmill until volitional exhaustion with 0.8 km.h of increment at each 3 and 1 minute of interval between stages and (b) tap dance choreography (TAP)-"The Shim Sham Shimmy"-consisting of 9 stages of 3 minutes with 1-minute rest between stages. Expired gas analyses were performed in all experimental sessions, providing breath-by-breath values for respiratory exchange rate (RER), oxygen uptake (VO(2)), and carbon dioxide production (CO2). Heart rate (HR) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were also measured. During the rest period between stages, blood samples (25 microl) were collected from the ear lobe for lactate threshold (LT) determination. It was observed that at the end of the TAP, subjects achieved an average of 83.8 +/- 6.2% of the HRmax and 68.9 +/- 11.3% of the VO(2)max, both previously identified in the GXT. The choreography demanded 204.7 +/- 31.3 kcal, an average RER of 0.88 +/- 0.05 and mean RPE of 13 +/- 2. The VO(2), HR, and RPE values did not significantly differ from those at the LT intensity identified during the GTX. Based on the present results, it was concluded that the TAP performance in the "The Shim Sham Shimmy" choreography elicited acute physiologic responses similar to those observed at the LT intensity, thus suggesting that Tap Dance constitutes a useful exercise modality for aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health improvements.