The effects of active recovery using previously active and inactive muscle groups on power output and respiratory responses were examined. Ten male volunteers underwent two exhaustive 40-s bouts of leg cycling (1st Ex and 2nd Ex), separated by a 20-min recovery period. The recovery conditions were leg (Leg-Active) or arm (Arm-Active) cranking at 50% ventilatory threshold (VT), or sedentary control (Passive). The total output work (Total work) during the 2nd Ex in the Leg-Active condition was significantly higher than that in the Passive [299 vs. 282 J x kg body mass(-1) (J x BM(-1))]. The values of Total work, peak VO2 and peak heart rate during the 2nd Ex were significantly higher than those during the 1st Ex in both Leg- and Arm-Active. Total CO2 excess after the 1st Ex was significantly higher than that after the 2nd Ex (67.6 vs. 26.0 ml x BM(-1)) in Passive. After the 2nd Ex, the Total CO2 excess in the Leg-Active (51.5 ml x BM(-1)) was significantly higher than that in both the Passive (26.0) and Arm-Active (36.5), with Arm-Active being significantly higher than Passive. The recovery exercise using previously inactive muscles improved respiratory compensation ability related to performance enhancement.