In this study 11 subjects performed exercise resulting in delayed onset muscular soreness in m. gastrocnemius with one leg, the experimental leg. The other leg served as control. Pre-exercise and 24, 48 and 72 h postexercise, soreness perception, resting EMG level of m. gastrocnemius, and volume and skin temperature of both legs were measured, and a leukocyte count was performed. Perception of soreness in m. gastrocnemius reported 24, 48, and 72 h postexercise was not accompanied by an increase in resting EMG level. This result indicates that soreness perception is not related to a tonic localized spasm in sore muscles. A rise in volume of the experimental leg relative to volume of the control leg was found 24, 48, and 72 h postexercise (P < 0.05). It is suggested that the volume rise is due to edema formation in the experimental leg and that this edema formation is responsible for soreness perception. Since granulocytosis was not found, the hypothesis that edema formation reflects muscle inflammation is not substantiated.