Reliable standards of maximal power output in middle-aged and physically active men and women are desirable in sports-medical practice. For this purpose maximal cycle ergometer tests were evaluated in 2038 men and 898 women over 40 years of age (46.8 +/- 6.1 years (mean +/- SD) and 47.5 +/- 6.6 years), who volunteered in a sports-medical check-up and all of whom were active in sports for at least three months in the year preceding the screening (4.3 +/- 3.1 hours/week respectively 3.6 +/- 2.5 hours/week). The range of maximal values for power output (Wmax), heart rate (HRmax), systolic blood pressure (SBPmax) and peak plasma lactate concentrations (PPLa) during progressive cycle ergometer testing are presented for males and females who were divided into groups with a 5-years age difference. Wmax varied with sex (male = 1, female = 0), age (year) and height (cm); Wmax = 65.3 x (sex) + 2.0 x (height) -1.9 x (age) - 67.9 (See = 38.2; r = 0.76). The weighing of different factors that influence performance was also studied by multiple regression analysis to provide improved precision in standards used to interpret exercise tests. In both men and women about half of the variation of Wmax could be explained by the independent variables age, body mass, body fat, smoking habits, vital capacity, heart rate, and physical activity parameters. It is concluded that active involvement in endurance sports and/or the use of the bicycle for transport, contributed substantially to cardiovascular fitness in healthy, middle-aged men and women.