Metabolic changes in blood and skeletal muscle of dogs before, during and after tourniquet ischaemia were investigated to obtain further information on cellular metabolic abnormalities and restitution during and following long-lasting blood flow interruptions. Total carbohydrate and glycogen contents in the muscle tissue fell during ischaemia and remained significantly decreased even 1 h after recirculation due to inhibition of glycogen synthetase activity. Muscle glucose concentration remained stable during ischaemia and was significantly elevated 1 h after tourniquet release. In contrast, muscle lactate concentration was elevated during ischaemia and normal after recirculation. Blood lactate, pyruvate and serum inorganic phosphate concentrations increased markedly after tourniquet release and were still significantly elevated 1 h after recirculation, whereas ketone bodies and citric acid cycle intermediates remained unchanged. Tourniquet ischaemia had no effect on muscle phosphate concentration or on the activities of proteases, protease inhibitors or hydrolases in the blood. Nevertheless, our results clearly indicate metabolic abnormalities in the blood and skeletal muscle during 5 h of tourniquet ischaemia and even after 1 h of recirculation.