1. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of a plantarflexor maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) on Achilles tendon moment arm length. 2. Sagittal magnetic resonance (MR) images of the right ankle were taken in six subjects both at rest and during a plantarflexor MVC in the supine position at a knee angle of 90 deg and at ankle angles of -30 deg (dorsiflexed direction), -15 deg, 0 deg (neutral ankle position), +15 deg (plantarflexed direction), +30 deg and +45 deg. A system of mechanical stops, support triangles and velcro straps was used to secure the subject in the above positions. Location of a moving centre of rotation was calculated for ankle rotations from -30 to 0 deg, -15 to +15 deg, 0 to +30 deg and +15 to +45 deg. All instant centres of rotation were calculated both at rest and during MVC. Achilles tendon moment arms were measured at ankle angles of -15, 0, +15 and +30 deg. 3. At any given ankle angle, Achilles tendon moment arm length during MVC increased by 1-1.5 cm (22-27 %, P < 0.01) compared with rest. This was attributed to a displacement of both Achilles tendon by 0.6-1.1 cm (P < 0.01) and all instant centres of rotation by about 0.3 cm (P < 0.05) away from their corresponding resting positions. 4. The findings of this study have important implications for estimating loads in the musculoskeletal system. Substantially unrealistic Achilles tendon forces and moments generated around the ankle joint during a plantarflexor MVC would be calculated using resting Achilles tendon moment arm measurements.