The energy output of rabbit papillary muscle is examined and it is shown that there is more energy liberated in an afterloaded isotonic contraction than in an "equivalent" isometric contraction. This statement holds true regardless of whether equivalence is based on the proposition that tension or the time integral of tension is the best index of muscle energy expenditure. Besides the external work performed there is additional heat production in isotonic contractions and this heat increases as the afterload is decreased. The additional heat is more evident when tension rather than the time integral of tension is made the determinant of energy expenditure. It is shown in single contractions that the rate of isotonic heat production, regardless of afterload size, never exceeds the heat rate recorded in an isometric contraction at the same initial length. Experiments reveal no simple linear correlation between isotonic energy output and contractile element work. Problems associated with the compartmentalization of the energy output of a contraction are discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.