Anaerobic energy release is of great importance for shortlasting exercise but has been difficult to quantify. In order to determine the amount of anaerobic energy release during shortlasting exercise we let 17 healthy young males exercise on the ergometer bike to exhaustion. The power during exercise was kept constant and selected to cause exhaustion in approximately 30 s, 1 min, or 2-3 min. The O2 uptake was measured continuously during the exercise, and the anaerobic energy release was quantified by the accumulated O2 deficit. The work done as well as the total energy release rose linearly with the exercise duration and was therefore a sum of a component proportional to time plus a constant addition. The accumulated O2 deficit increased from 1.86 +/- 0.07 (SE) mmol/kg for 30 s exercise to 2.25 +/- 0.06 mmol/kg for 1 min exercise and further to 2.42 +/- 0.08 mmol/kg for exercise lasting 2 min or more (P less than 0.01). The accumulated O2 uptake increased linearly with the duration, and as a consequence of this the relative importance of aerobic processes increased from 40% at 30 s duration to 50% at 1 min duration and further to 65% for exercise lasting 2 min. These results show that both aerobic and anaerobic processes contribute significantly during intense exercise lasting from 30 s to 3 min.