Steady swimming movements of dolphins were recorded in a search for direct evidence of asymmetry between upstrokes and downstrokes. Kinematic swimming and gliding data from frame-by-frame analysis of ciné pictures taken at constant frame rates with a camera in a fixed position are presented. We estimated the propulsive forces generated by the tail blade with a simple hydrodynamic model. Dolphins accelerate during the downstroke and decelerate during the upstroke: the net hydrodynamic force in the animal is always positive during the downstroke and negative during the upstroke. Both parts of the stroke cycle are equally long. The propulsive forces of downstrokes are on average larger than the forces of the upstrokes. Occasionally the average forces within an upstroke are greater than within a downstroke of the same sequence. Our data suggest that the drag on the body during the upstroke exceeds the drag in the course of the downstroke. The specific swimming speed or stride length of dolphins swimming at low speeds is about 0.9 body lengths per tail beat.