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The maximum aerobic power (V02max) and various indices of body size and composition, including body weight, height, skinfold thickness at four sites and an estimate of leg volume (corrected for fat) from anthropometric measurements have been determined on African male and female subjects during work on a stationary bicycle ergometer. The data have been compared with previous findings on healthy Europeans of similar age.The results show that in healthy subjects irrespective of sex and ethnic origin V02max 1S reTited to the effective muscle mass that can be used to perform the work. During cycling on a stationary bicycle ergometer this is essentially the muscles of the legs. The lower V02max of African men, when compared to Europeans, and of the women of both races is a function of their smaller muscle mass. It is concluded that in community studies of work capacity or in clinical assessment of exercise tolerance, if a bicycle ergometer is used, V02max must be standardised for leg muscle mass before attempting to in­vestigate the differences in physiological performance.