Effects of chronic denervation upon in vivo forearm metabolism were studied in six patients and six controls. The diagnosis was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in four patients, the neuronal form of Charcot-Marie Tooth disease in one patient, and an unclassified chronic disease of the lower motor neurons in one patient. In all cases the forearm muscles showed clinical weakness and electrical evidence of denervation, while muscle biopsy from a proximal muscle of the upper limb showed typical denervation atrophy. At rest there was increased oxygen utilization and lactate output as well as a tendency for increased uptake of glucose and long chain fatty acids from arterial blood per 100 ml of forearm tissue. During exercise the abnormally high lactate output increased further. An increased arterial lactate concentration was present during rest and exercise. Oxidation of fatty acids was not impaired. It is suggested that these abnormalities are consistent with an augmented utilization of blood borne fuels at rest by denervated muscles. A concurrent regional ischemia of muscles during rest and exercise, possibly due to defective autoregulation of skeletal muscle blood flow, may explain the abnormally high lactate generation.