The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of movement velocity (100 degrees, 200 degrees , 300 degrees s(-1), and 400 degrees s(-1)) and joint position (0 degrees - 15 degrees [L0], 25 degrees - 40 degees [L25], 55 degrees - 70 degrees [L55], and 75 degrees - 90 degrees [L75]) on peak torque (PT) parameters and surface electromyography (SEMG) of the knee-joint muscles during reciprocal isokinetic extension and flexion movements. Thirteen subjects (age = 22.7 +/- 2.1 years, mean height = 161.1 +/- 6.6 cm, mean weight = 63.5 +/- 5.8 kg) participated in the study. Bipolar surface electrodes were placed over the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and medial hamstrings for determination of the root mean square (SEMGrms) and median frequency (SEMGmf) of the SEMG. Peak torque, angle of peak torque (PTang), percentage of peak torque (PTper), SEMGrms, and SEMGmf were analyzed using separate repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). The following main results, significant at p < or = 0.05 or better, were found: The PTang was influenced by movement velocity (in extension there was a decrease in PTang moving from 300 degrees x s(-1) to 400 degrees x s(-1) and inflexion there was an increase in PTang moving from 300 degrees x s(-1) to 400 degrees x s(-1)). Secondly, a greater percentage of peak torque (PTper) was maintained during knee flexion than knee extension. And thirdly, both the quadriceps and hamstrings exhibited changing amplitudes and spectral frequencies based on joint position and movement velocity. There was a trend of decreasing SEMGrms for the quadriceps as the knee moved into extension, and a lower SEMGmf during early (L75) and end stages of knee extension (L0). For the hamstrings, SEMGrms was lowest at the more shortened position (L75) and highest near the mid-position (L25); the lowest SEMGmf occurred at the more lengthened position (L0) and the highest occurred at the more shortened position (L75). Finally, velocity influenced hamstrings and quadriceps muscle amplitude such that SEMGrms was highest at the slower velocities and lowest at the higher velocities. Velocity had no impact on quadriceps spectral properties (p > 0.05), but had a cyclic effect on hamstrings spectral properties. Changes in amplitude and frequency spectrum in tested muscles could be explained, in part, by neural drive to these muscles. Data support the hypothesis of lower activation levels of the quadriceps muscle in the extended position espoused by several authors as a way to protect the knee-joint in the knee-extended position.