To elucidate the changes in neuro-muscular function during strength training and detraining, five male subjects underwent progressive isotonic strength training of their calf muscles three times a week for 8 weeks with additional detraining for the same periods. Electrically evoked twitch contractions were induced in the triceps surae muscles of each subject every 4 weeks during the training and detraining periods. At the same time, maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVC) and the maximal girth of the calf (MGC) were measured. During the training period, MVC increased significantly from 98.4 to 129.6 Nm (31.7%, P less than 0.01) for the first 4 weeks of training but MGC showed little increase. Neither of the changes correlated with each other. Twitch contraction parameters, i.e. maximal twitch torque (Pt), maximal rate of torque development (max dT/dt) and rate of relaxation (relax dT/dt) showed no statistical change. During detraining, on the contrary, a large and significant increase (22.5%, P less than 0.01) was observed in max dT/dt without any changes in Pt and relax dT/dt. The MVC/Pt showed both significant increases during training and decreases during detraining. Our data suggest that short term strength training as employed in the present study does not induce changes in the contractile properties of the muscle during training, but may significantly affect the rate of force development during the subsequent detraining period, indicating the possible existence of complex post-training muscle adaptation.