1. The effects of unaccustomed eccentric exercise on exercise metabolism during a subsequent bout of graded concentric exercise were investigated in seven healthy male subjects. Arterial and bilateral femoral venous catheters were inserted 2 days after eccentric exercise of one thigh (eccentric thigh) and blood samples were taken before and during graded two-legged concentric knee-extensor exercise. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the eccentric and control vastus lateralis before (rest) and after (post) the concentric exercise bout. 2. Maximal knee-extensor concentric exercise capacity was decreased by an average of 23 % (P < 0.05) in the eccentric compared with the control thigh. 3. The resting muscle glycogen content was lower in the eccentric thigh than in the control thigh (402 +/- 30 mmol (kg dry wt)-1 vs. 515 +/- 26 mmol (kg dry wt)-1, means +/- s.e.m., P < 0.05), and following the two-legged concentric exercise this difference substantially increased (190 +/- 46 mmol (kg dry wt)-1 vs. 379 +/- 58 mmol (kg dry wt)-1, P < 0.05) despite identical power and duration of exercise with the two thighs. 4. There was no measurable difference in glucose uptake between the eccentric and control thigh before or during the graded two-legged concentric exercise. Lactate release was higher from the eccentric thigh at rest and, just before termination of the exercise bout, release of lactate decreased from this thigh (suggesting decreased glycogenolysis), whereas no decrease was found from the contralateral control thigh. Lower glycerol release from the eccentric thigh during the first, lighter part of the exercise (P < 0.05) suggested impaired triacylglycerol breakdown. 5. At rest, sarcolemmal GLUT4 glucose transporter content and glucose transport were similar in the two thighs, and concentric exercise increased sarcolemmal GLUT4 content and glucose transport capacity similarly in the two thighs. 6. It is concluded that in muscle exposed to prior eccentric contractions, exercise at a given power output requires a higher relative workload than in undamaged muscle. This increases utilization of the decreased muscle glycogen stores, contributing to decreased endurance.