Force (F) and stiffness (K) were measured in glycerinated psoas fibers at various calcium levels with 0, 10, 20, and 30 mM orthophosphate (Pi) added to the bathing solutions. The concentrations of bathing solution constituents were as follows: 110 mM potassium, 40 mM sodium, 4 mM MgATP, 10 mM total EGTA, and variable amounts of MOPS (pH buffer). The pH was 7.0, the ionic strength was 200 mM, and the temperature was 10 degrees C. Calcium levels were established by adding various amounts of CaCl2. All solutions contained 4% Dextran T-500. Fiber K was measured by imposing sinusoidal length changes (0.03-0.1%) at 1 kHz and by applying rapid steps in length and measuring the resulting F changes. At all [Pi] tested, K was more sensitive to calcium than F. Elevating bathing solution [Pi] caused a decrease in the calcium sensitivity of both F and K, while the slopes of F-calcium and K-calcium relations increased. In maximally activating calcium, raising [Pi] caused a continuous decrease in F over the range tested, while from very low to 10 mM Pi K remained constant. Above 10 mM Pi K declined, but to a lesser extent than did F. The results suggest that under our experimental conditions strongly attached crossbridges can exist in both force-producing and non-force-producing states, and that the relative population of these states may be calcium dependent.