We quantified gait and stride characteristics (velocity, frequency, stride length, stance and swing duration, and duty factor) in the bursts of locomotion of two small, intermittently moving, closely related South American gymnophthalmid lizards: Vanzosaura rubricauda and Procellosaurinus tetradactylus. They occur in different environments: V rubricauda is widely distributed in open areas with various habitats and substrates, while P. tetradactylus is endemic to dunes in the semi-arid Brazilian Caatinga. Both use trot or walking trot characterised by a lateral sequence. For various substrates in a gradient of roughness (perspex, cardboard, sand, gravel), both species have low relative velocities in comparison with those reported for larger continuously moving lizards. To generate velocity, these animals increase stride frequency but decrease relative stride length. For these parameters, P. tetradactylus showed lower values than V rubricauda. In their relative range of velocities, no significant differences in stride length and frequency were recorded for gravel. However, the slopes of a correlation between velocity and its components were lower in P. tetradactylus on cardboard, whereas on sand this was only observed for velocity and stride length. The data showed that the difference in rhythmic parameters between both species increased with the smoothness of the substrates. Moreover, P. tetradactylus shows a highly specialised locomotor strategy involving lower stride length and frequency for generating lower velocities than in V. rubricauda. This suggests the evolution of a central motor pattern generator to control slower limb movements and to produce fewer and longer pauses in intermittent locomotion. (c) 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.