The purpose of this study was to compare the three most commonly used maximal graded exercise test (GXT) protocols in healthy women. Submaximal and maximal metabolic and hemodynamic responses were determined from two treadmill protocols, Bruce and Balke, and a bicycle protocol, in 49 women. Maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) was significantly different among protocols (Bruce=40.3, Balke=38.4, and Bike=36.6 ml/kg . min -1). Maximum heart rate (HR max) was significantly lower during Bike (178 beats/min) than during Bruce (182) and Balke (183) protocols. No differences in rate of increase in HR or systolic blood pressure (BP) per increase in multiples of the rest metabolic (METs) were found between Bruce and Balke protocols. The rate of recovery of HR and systolic BP was not different among tests. Comparisons of active and sedentary groups showed differences in VO2 max and submaximal HR and recovery HR at common minutes; however, the rate of increase in HR and systolic BP during exercise and the rate of decrease during recovery were not significantly different. Prediction of VO2 max with Bruce and Balke protocols from treadmill time was r=0.91 (SEE +/- 2.7 ml/kg . min -1) and r=0.94 (SEE 2.2 ml/kg . min -1), respectively. These data suggest a difference between men and women in increased HR and systolic BP per METs increase in exertion.