Isolated, saline-perfused gastrocnemius muscles of Xenopus laevis were used to assess the relationships between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism during conditions of rest, isotonic contraction and recovery. The major part (85%) of the energy used during 25 min of isotonic contractions in the saline-perfused muscles was from anaerobic rather than aerobic sources. However, the small contribution made by oxidative metabolism during activity can be attributed, in part at least, to limitations imposed by the rate of perfusion and the low O2 capacity of the perfusate. The respiratory exchange ratio (R = VCO2/VO2) of saline-perfused gastrocnemius muscles of Xenopus was 0.82 at rest, increasing to values well above 1.0 during activity. The elevated R value is consistent with liberation of CO2 by metabolic acid titration of the bicarbonate buffer system of the saline perfusate. Recovery from exercise was characterized as a period of net CO2 retention (R values of 0.4) presumably reflecting a replenishment of depleted CO2 stores. Depending on the acid-base status of the venous outflow from the isotonically contracting muscles, hydrogen ions were found to be released at either a greater rate (alkalosis) or slower rate (acidosis) than that of lactate.

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