L-Carnitine (L-C), a well known physiological carrier across the inner mitochondrial membrane of activated long chain fatty acids and acceptor of acyl groups from acyl-CoA, has been recently synthesised industrially. This has made it possible to study the effects of L-C loading (4 g X d(-1) by mouth over a period of 2 weeks) on the aerobic and anaerobic performance of 6 long distance competitive walkers. As a result of the treatment: 1) mean total, free and esterified serum L-C both at rest and shortly after completing a 120 min walk at about 65% of the individual maximal aerobic power (VO2max) were significantly increased; 2) VO2max increased 6%, from 54.5 +/- 3.7 (S.D.) to 57.8 +/- 4.7 m1O2 X kg(-1) X min(-1) (P less than 0.02); 3) blood lactate concentration (Lab) as a consequence of short bouts repeated exercise (series of 10, 15 and 20 jumps off both feet on a force platform) was unchanged; 4) heart rate, pulmonary ventilation, oxygen consumption, and respiratory quotient in the same conditions as for 1) were unchanged. It is concluded that, in trained athletes, as a consequence of L-C loading VO2max is slightly but significantly raised, probably as a result of an activation of substrate flow through the TCA cycle, whereas the lipid contribution to metabolism in prolonged submaximal exercise remains unchanged.