Morphological changes in skeletal muscle related to lengthening (eccentric) contractions have been noted by several laboratories. However, a systematic examination of skeletal muscle following repetitive eccentric contractions is lacking. This study was undertaken to study lesions and determine their relative densities in rat soleus muscle 30 min following level or downhill treadmill exercise. Following fixation in situ by vascular perfusion, toluidine-blue-stained 1-micron sections of the muscle samples selected at 73-micron intervals were scanned with a light microscope. Three types of lesions were noted: focal disruptions in the A-band, localized dissolution of Z-lines, and clotting of muscle fibers. Soleus muscle from the caged controls and the tibialis anterior muscle from downhill-exercised rats were essentially free of lesions. Eighty-nine percent of the soleus m. lesions in the downhill runner group and 97% of those in the level runner group were A-band disruptions. A-band lesion density was significantly higher in the soleus muscle of the downhill runners compared to level runners with the highest incidence in the distal half. A-band lesion density was lower in soleus muscles from level runners; however, the highest intramuscular incidence was in the proximal rather than the distal end. The results indicate that a disruption of the A-band is a principal change within some skeletal muscle fibers 30 min following repetitive eccentric contractions.