Percutaneous electrical myostimulation (PES) was used to manipulate the force produced by the knee extensor muscles during eccentric exercise, thereby providing a model to investigate the role of force in muscle damage. Two eccentric exercise bouts of equal work were performed by nine subjects, using fixed voltage PES at 20 Hz (to produce moderate muscle forces) and 100 Hz (to produce high muscle forces). Muscle contractility, serum creatine kinase activity (CK) and muscle soreness (MS) were evaluated before, and up to 14 days after exercise. Data are presented as means+/-SEM, and were analysed using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA), t-tests and Wilcoxon tests. Peak forces were higher during the 100 Hz bout than the 20 Hz bout for repetitions 1 (472+/-60 vs 237+/-23 Newtons), 10 (381+/-26 vs 233+/-26 Newtons), 20 (310+/-24 vs 218+/-24 Newtons), all p <0.01, t-test and 30 (297+/-27 vs 204+/-21 Newtons), p <0.05, t-test. Following the 100 Hz bout, maximum voluntary contractile force (MVC) was lower (p0.05, ANOVA). The higher rise in CK and MS after the 100 Hz bout, together with the greater deficit in MVC, suggest that in humans, muscle force is a contributing factor to muscle injury during eccentric actions.