The contraction dynamics of end and center regions of single fibers have been measured during fixed-end tetani. Experimental control and data acquisition are provided by a digital system that can acquire diffraction data as fast as every 260 microseconds for 300-700 ms. Tension records are simultaneously displayed on a storage oscilloscope. Resting sarcomere length variation between the end and center regions was analogous to that of Gordon et al. (1966). During the rapid rise in force (less than 45 ms), the end regions contract almost twice as fast as the center regions. During the slow rise in force, the velocity of contraction of the end regions was 3.8 times the velocity of stretch of the center regions. In addition, factors that affected the rate and extent of the slow rise in tension also affected the rate and extent of end shortening. In 58% of the cases studied, the amount of shortening observed in the end region was enough to explain the extent of the slow rise in tension. These data support the explanation of creep first proposed by A. V. Hill (1953) and used by Gordon et al. (1966) to justify their use of the back-extrapolation technique in measuring the isometric force-generating capability of a single fiber. These data also indicate that the laser diffraction technique may provide an effective, noninvasive method for studying sarcomere dynamics during creep and related phenomena.

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