This study was undertaken to examine the effects of ingestion of carbohydrate (CHO) solutions of 0 (WP), 6 (CHO-6), 12 (CHO-12), and 18 g CHO/100 ml (CHO-18) on performance and muscle glycogen use. Ten trained cyclists performed five 120-min cycling trials. The first 105 min of each trial was at 70% of maximal O2 consumption (VO2max), and the final 15 min was an all-out performance ride on an isokinetic cycle ergometer equipped to measure total work output. In one of the trials (CHO-12I) the submaximal portion of the ride consisted of seven 15-min rides at 70% of VO2max with a 3-min rest between each ride. Every 15 min the men consumed 8.5 ml.kg-1.h-1 (approximately 150 ml) of one of the four test solutions. Venous blood samples were obtained every 15 min for glucose and insulin. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis at 0 and 105 min in the WP and the CHO-12 continuous and intermittent trials. Biopsy samples were assayed for glycogen and sectioned and stained for myosin adenosinetriphosphatase and glycogen for single fiber depletion measurements. There were no differences in glycogen use (86.7 +/- 6.0, 75.5 +/- 7.9, and 83.5 +/- 5.5 mmol/kg for the WP, CHO-12C, and CHO-12I, respectively) or depletion patterns between the WP and the two CHO-12 trials. Blood glucose was significantly elevated in both the CHO-12 trials and in the CHO-18 trial compared with the WP trial.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)