Male cyclists (N = 8) and noncyclists (N = 8) pedaled under six randomly ordered cadences (50, 65, 80, 95, 110 rpm and the preferred cadence) at 200 W to test the hypothesis that electromyographic activity of selected lower limb muscles is minimized at the preferred cadence. Average preferred cadences for cyclists (85.2 +/- 9.2 rpm) and noncyclists (91.6 +/- 10.5 rpm) were not statistically different. Only gastrocnemius EMG was affected substantially and systematically by cadence changes, increasing linearly with cadence increases. Rectus femoris and vastus lateralis EMG displayed significant quadratic and linear relationships with cadence, respectively, but EMG differences between cadences were small for both muscles. Noncyclists did not exhibit significantly different patterns of muscle activity from cyclists, although there was a trend for soleus and gastrocnemius EMG to be higher in noncyclists. The results did not support our hypothesis that lower extremity muscle activation is minimized at an individual's preferred pedaling cadence. Thus, preferred cadence selection does not appear to be related to minimization of muscle activation. Given the nonlinear relationships between muscle mechanical properties, force, and EMG it is unlikely that a simple relationship exists between EMG and muscle stress.