Nine bodybuilders performed heavy-resistance exercise activating the quadriceps femoris muscle. Intermittent 30-s exhaustive exercise bouts comprising 6-12 repetitions were interspersed with 60-s periods for 30 min. Venous blood samples were taken repeatedly during and after exercise for analyses of plasma free fatty acid (FFA) and glycerol concentration. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis muscle before and after exercise and assayed for glycogen, glycerol-3-phosphate, lactate and triglyceride (TG) content. The activities of citrate synthase (CS), lactate dehydrogenase, hexokinase (HK), myokinase, creatine kinase and 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase (HAD), were analysed. Histochemical staining procedures were used to assess fibre type composition, fibre area and capillary density. TG content before and after exercise averaged (SD) 23.9 (13.3) and 16.7 (6.4) mmol kg-1 dry wt. The basal triglyceride content varied sixfold among individuals and the higher the levels the greater was the change during exercise. The glycogen content decreased (P less than 0.001) from 690 (82) to 495 (95) mmol kg-1 dry wt. and lactate and glycerol-3-phosphate increased (P less than 0.001) to 79.5 (5.5) and 14.5 (7.3) mmol kg-1 dry wt., respectively, after exercise. The HK and HAD/CS content respectively correlated with glycogen or TG content at rest and with changes in these metabolites during exercise. FFA and glycerol concentrations increased slightly (P less than 0.001) during exercise. Lipolysis may, therefore, provide energy during heavy-resistance exercise of relatively short duration. Also, storage and utilization of intramuscular substrates appear to be influenced by the metabolic profile of muscle.