This study examined the influence of reduced oxygen availability on the ability to perform repeated bouts of high intensity exercise on a cycle ergometer. Seven male physical education students performed 10 exercise bouts (of 6 s each), interspersed with 30-s recovery periods, under hypoxic and normoxic conditions. The hypoxic condition was carried out in a low pressure chamber at 526 mmHg. Subjects were instructed to try to maintain a target pedalling speed of 140 rev min-1 during each exercise period. The mean power output of the first exercise bout was approximately 950 W. In both experimental conditions, all subjects were able to maintain the target speed for the first 3 s of each of the 10 exercise bouts. During the last 3-s interval of each exercise period the target speed was not maintained in both conditions over the 10 sprints. However, the reduction was greater in the hypoxic condition (P < 0.05). Post-exercise blood lactate accumulation was higher with hypoxia [10.3 (0.7) vs. 8.5 (0.8) mmol l-1, P < 0.05]. Oxygen uptake, measured during the exercise and recovery periods of sprints 6-9, was lower in the hypoxic condition [3.03 (0.2) vs. 3.19 (0.2) 1 min-1, P < 0.05]. These results indicate that a reduction in oxygen availability during high intensity intermittent exercise results in a higher accumulation of blood lactate and a lower oxygen uptake. The ability to maintain a high power output is impaired.