The pattern of ad lib wheel running was studied in adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Wheel turns per 20 seconds were recorded for 5 days. Females ran more than males but both ran chiefly at night, with a peak at the beginning and a decline to low levels by daytime. Log-survivor plots showed running occurred in distinct episodes separated by long periods of nonrunning. Both the nightly decrease and the sex difference in running were due to changes in duration of episodes and the running speed. Initiation of running, as reflected in the length of nonrunning periods was similar in both sexes and remained constant over the night. Running was discussed in terms of independent initiation and termination factors and its parallels to eating patterns.