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We hypothesized that the initial rate (first 40 ms) of unilateral knee extensor torque development during a maximally fast isometric contraction would depend on the subjects' ability for fast neural activation and that it would predict bilateral jumping performance.Nine males (21.8 ± 0.9 yr, means ± SD) performed unilateral fast isometric knee extensions (120° knee angle) without countermovement on a dynamometer and bilateral squat jumps (SJ) and countermovement jumps (CMJ) starting from 90 and 120° knee angles (full extension = 180°). The dynamometer contractions started either from full relaxation or from an isometric pre-tension (15% maximal isometric torque, Tmax). Torque time integral for the first 40 ms after torque onset (TTI-40, normalized to Tmax) and averaged normalized rectified knee extensor EMG for 40 ms before fast torque onset (EMG-40) were used to quantify initial torque rise and voluntary muscle activation.TTI-40 without pre-tension (range: 0.02-0.19% Tmax per second) was significantly lower than TTI-40 with pre-tension, and both were significantly (r = 0.81 and 0.80) related to EMG-40. During jumping, similar significant positive relations were found between jump height and knee extensor EMG during the first 100 ms of the rise in ground reaction force. There also were significant positive linear relations between dynamometer TTI-40 and jump height (r = 0.75 (SJ 90), 0.84 (SJ 120), 0.76 (CMJ 90), and 0.86 (CMJ 120)) but not between dynamometer Tmax and jump height (−0.16 < r < 0.02).One-legged TTI-40 to a large extent explained the variation in jump height. The ability to produce a high efferent neural drive before muscle contraction seemed to dominate performance in both the simple single-joint isometric task and the complex multijoint dynamic task.