The type and distribution of mononuclear cell infiltrates in muscle biopsies taken from 9 subjects at differing times after exercise in which the muscle is stretched (eccentric exercise) has been characterised. The appearances are compared to those seen in muscle from patients with inflammatory muscle disease. After exercise infiltrating cells were seen in perivascular, perimysial and endomysial regions, the extent being greater in the later biopsies (9-14 days). The predominant cell type was the macrophage (46-100% of all infiltrating cells), the remainder were T lymphocytes with a predominance of the CD4 positive helper/inducer subset. Approximately one third of the T cells expressed DA2 (class 2) antigen indicating that they were activated. Very few B lymphocytes and no Leu7 positive cells were seen. There was evidence of class 1 expression on some of the damaged muscle fibres. The appearance of the experimentally damaged muscle in normal subjects was very similar to untreated polymyositis suggesting that a proportion of the infiltrating cells seen in this disease may be present as part of a natural response to damage rather than being its cause.