Eleven male subjects (20-32 years) accustomed to strength training went through progressive, high-load strength training for 24 weeks with intensities ranging variably between 70 and 120% during each month. This training was also followed by a 12-week detraining period. An increase of 26.8% (P less than 0.001) in maximal isometric strength took place during the training. The increase in strength correlated (P less than 0.05) with significant (P less than 0.05-0.01) increases in the neural activation (IEMG) of the leg extensor muscles during the most intensive training months. During the lower-intensity training, maximum IEMG decreased (P less than 0.05). Enlargements of muscle-fibre areas, especially of fast-twitch type (P less than 0.001), took place during the first 12 weeks of training. No hypertrophic changes were noted during the latter half of training. After initial improvements (P less than 0.05) no changes or even slight worsening were noted in selected force-time parameters during later strength training. During detraining a great (P less than 0.01) decrease in maximal strength was correlated (P less than 0.05) with the decrease (P less than 0.05) in the maximum IEMGs of the leg extensors. This period resulted also in decreases (P less than 0.05) of the mean muscle-fibre areas of both fibre types. It was concluded that improvement in strength may be accounted for by neural factors during the course of very intensive strength training. Selective training-induced hypertrophy also contributed to strength development but muscle hypertrophy may have some limitations during long-lasting strength training, especially in highly trained subjects.