Abstract In the lobster Homarus gammarus, rhythmic masticatory movements of the foregut gastric mill are generated by a small neural network in the stomatogastric ganglion. We have used EMG recordings from intact animals to analyse gastric network output in relation to cycle period before and after feeding. In pre-prandial conditions, muscles controlling lateral teeth closure and medial tooth protraction (driven by MG and GM motor neurons, respectively) express relatively constant, return stroke-like burst durations, but change to a variable-duration power stroke-like phenotype after feeding. In contrast, the LPG neuron-innervated lateral teeth opener muscle switches from power stroke to return stroke-like behavior. Thus alternate phases within a single motor program may invert their temporal properties according to the behavioral situation.