The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of gender on the EMG signal of the muscles of the quadriceps femoris and the physical performance in high-intensity, short-term exercise. Fourteen volunteers (7 men = 29.1 +/- 2.8 years and 7 women = 22.6 +/- 2.9 years) performed a Wingate Test (WT) with a load of 7.5% of body mass. The variables analyzed during the WT were the Relative Peak Power (W.Kg(-1)) (RPP), Relative Mean Power (W.Kg(-1)) (RMP), Fatigue Index (%) (FI) and Peak Power Instant (s) (PPI). EMG signals of the superficial muscles of the quadriceps femoris (QF) from the right leg: rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL) and vastus medialis (VM) were analyzed through root mean square (RMS) values and the normalized median frequency (MNF) determined using the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT). The RPP and the RMP were significantly higher in men when compared to women (9.99 +/- 0.96 vs. 7.66 +/- 1.00 W.kg(-1); 7.23 +/- 0.49 vs. 5.65 +/- 0.61 W.kg(1), P < 0.05; respectively). No significant difference between genders was found on RMS and NMF during WT (P > 0.05). Although RPP and RMP were influenced by gender, the RMS and the NMF of the superficial muscles of the QF did not show the same behavior, suggesting that other mechanisms, not related to motor unit recruitment and speed of nervous stimuli in the muscle fiber may be associated to the lower performance of women in high-intensity, short-term exercise.