This study was undertaken to determine the effect of exercise duration on the time course and magnitude of excess postexercise O2 consumption (EPOC). Six healthy male subjects exercised on separate days for 80, 40, and 20 min at 70% of maximal O2 consumption on a cycle ergometer. A control experiment without exercise was performed. O2 uptake, respiratory exchange ratio (R), and rectal temperature were monitored while the subjects rested in bed 24 h postexercise. An increase in O2 uptake lasting 12 h was observed for all exercise durations, but no increase was seen after 24 h. The magnitude of 12-h EPOC was proportional to exercise duration and equaled 14.4 +/- 1.2, 6.8 +/- 1.7, and 5.1 +/- 1.2% after 80, 40, and 20 min of exercise, respectively. On the average, 12-h EPOC equaled 15.2 +/- 2.0% of total exercise O2 consumption (EOC). There was no difference in EPOC:EOC for different exercise durations. A linear decrease with exercise duration was observed in R between 2 and 24 h postexercise. No change was observed in recovery rectal temperature. It is concluded that EPOC increases linearly with exercise duration at a work intensity of 70% of maximal O2 consumption.