1. Quadriceps strength, relaxation rate, fibre-type composition and energy-turnover rate during a submaximal contraction have been measured in hypo- and hyper-thyroid patients and compared with findings in normal subjects.
2. Six out of eight hypothyroid patients had normal strength whereas four out of five hyperthyroid patients were weak.
3. Relaxation rate was decreased in all the hypothyroid patients but increased in only three out of five hyperthyroid patients.
4. In hypothyroidism there was a marked reduction in the percentage contributed by type II fibres to muscle cross-section, partly due to type II atrophy but also due to a decrease in the relative frequency of type II fibres. In hyperthyroidism both fibre types tended to atrophy.
5. The rate of ATP turnover during submaximal contraction held to fatigue was reduced in hypothyroidism. This was probably due to decreased ATP utilization rather than an impaired supply of energy-supplying substrates. In hyperthyroidism the rate of ATP turnover was increased.
6. Altered relaxation rate and ATP-turnover rate may be explained on the basis of changes in myosin ATPase activity with thyroid status. Changes in muscle-fibre-type composition, as determined histochemically, could not per se account for the functional abnormalities.