Adult, untrained NMRI mice were exhausted on a motor-driven treadmill by an intermittent-type running programme. Serial cryostate sections for the staining of NADH-tetrazolium reductase, beta-glucuronidase, beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase, and beta-glycerophosphatase activities and for making hematoxylin-eosin staining were cut from m. quadriceps femoris 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 15 days after physical exhaustion. A strong increase in the activities of beta-glucuronidase and beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase was observed 7 days after exhaustion and the activity changes, which were similar for the both glycosidases, were more prominent in the highly oxidative red compared to less oxidative white fibres. Activity granules were more numerous in the perinuclear than the interfibrillar area of red fibres. Spots were arranged like longitudinal chains between myofibrils. Activity in connective tissue was usually observed only in animals exhausted 3--7 days earlier. Simultaneous activity in fibres exceeded that in connective tissue. beta-Glycerophosphatase activity was not, by the method used, seen in histologically "healthy" or normal-looking fibres. In samples taken 2--5 days after exhaustion some degenerating and necrotic fibres were observed. Inflammatory reaction was also observed being at its strongest five days after loading when mononuclear cells were seen inside necrotic fibres. The number of regenerating muscle cells was most abundant 7 days after exhaustion. It is suggested that temporary hypoxia, which accompanies exhaustive physical exercise in skeletal muscle, upsets the energy metabolism and homeostasis of fibres and causes the observed histological and histochemical alterations, which possess features typical of both lethal and sublethal acute cell injury.