The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of passive and active recovery on the resynthesis of muscle glycogen after high-intensity cycle ergometer exercise in untrained subjects. In a cross-over design, six college-aged males performed three, 1-min exercise bouts at approximately 130% VO2max with a 4-min rest period between each work bout. The exercise protocol for each trial was identical, while the recovery following exercise was either active (30 min at 40-50% VO2max, 30-min seated rest) or passive (60-min seated rest). Initial muscle glycogen values averaged 144.2 +/- 3.8 mmol.kg-1 w.w. for the active trial and 158.7 +/- 8.0 mmol.kg-1 w.w. for the passive trial. Corresponding immediate postexercise glycogen contents were 97.7 +/- 5.4 and 106.8 +/- 4.7 mmol.kg-1 w.w., respectively. These differences between treatments were not significant. However, mean muscle glycogen after 60 min of passive recovery increased 15.0 +/- 4.9 mmol.kg-1 w.w., whereas it decreased 6.3 +/- 3.7 mmol.kg-1 w.w. following the 60 min active recovery protocol (P < 0.05). Also, the decrease in blood lactate concentration during active recovery was greater than during passive recovery and significantly different at 10 and 30 min of the recovery period (P < 0.05). These data suggest that the use of passive recovery following intense exercise results in a greater amount of muscle glycogen resynthesis than active recovery over the same duration.