The effect of long-term excercise on the intervertebral disc collagen concentration (hydroxyproline), collagen-synthesizing enzymes (prolyl-4-hydroxylase, PH, and galactosyl-hydroxylysyl glucosyltransferase, GGT) and hydroxypyridinium crosslinks was studied in ten female beagle dogs. The dogs were run on a treadmill for 1 year starting at the age of 15 weeks. The daily running distance was gradually increased to 40km, which distance the dogs ran for the final 15 weeks. Ten untrained dogs from the same breeding colony served as controls. The nucleus pulposus and anterior and posterior halves of the annulus fibrosus of C2-3, T10-12, L4-5 disc segments were analysed. Crosslinks were measured from the anterior annulus fibrosus of the T10-11 disc. Hydroxyproline and hydroxypyridinium concentrations remained similar in both groups. PH and GGT were significantly elevated by running in the posterior annulus fibrosus of the thoracic and lumbar discs and in the lumbar nucleus pulposus. In the thoracic nucleus pulposus GGT was reduced significantly. The results suggest activated collagen metabolism in the posterior annulus fibrosus of the thoracic and lumbar discs as a result of locally increased strains on the spine.