The capacity for nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) was examined in 26- to 27-day cold-acclimated (CA) muscovy ducklings reared for 21 days at 4 degrees C. Metabolic rate and integrated electromyographic (EMG) muscle activity were measured at ambient temperature ranging from -10 to 28 degrees C. Compared with controls reared at 30 degrees C, CA ducklings were more resistant to cold and had higher peak metabolic rate in extreme cold. Shivering threshold temperature of CA ducklings was 14.2 degrees C lower than lower critical temperature, whereas for controls the two temperatures were similar. Thus CA ducklings exhibited an NST in moderate cold. In addition, at temperatures that produced shivering, EMG activity in CA duckling muscle was lesser than that of controls, even at a higher metabolic rate. Because these ducklings are devoid of brown adipose tissue, these results indicated an increased thermogenic efficiency of muscular activity in CA ducklings.