To investigate human muscle bioenergetics quantitatively in vivo, we used 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study the flexor digitorum superficialis of four adult males during dynamic ischemic and aerobic exercise at 0.50-1.00 W and during recovery from aerobic exercise. During exercise, changes in pH and [PCr] were larger at higher power, but in aerobic exercise neither end-exercise [ADP] nor the initial postexercise PCr resynthesis rate altered with power. In ischemic exercise we estimated total ATP synthesis from the rates of PCr depletion and glycogenolysis (inferred using an analysis of proton buffering); this was linear with power output. In aerobic exercise, again we estimated ATP synthesis rates due to phosphocreatine hydrolysis and glycogenolysis (incorporating a correction for proton efflux) and also estimated oxidative ATP synthesis by difference, using the total ATP turnover rate established during ischemic exercise. We conclude that in early exercise oxidative ATP synthesis was small, increasing by the end of exercise to a value close (as predicted) to the initial postexercise rate of PCr resynthesis. Furthermore, a plausible estimate of proton efflux during aerobic exercise can be inferred from the pH-dependence of proton efflux in recovery.