Maximal weight-lifting performance, isometric strength, isokinetic torque, whole muscle and individual fiber cross-sectional areas, and muscle evoked contractile properties were assessed in 14 elderly males before and after 12 wk of weight-lifting training. Dynamic elbow flexion training of one arm resulted in a significant 48% mean increase in the maximal load that could be lifted once (1 RM) and a smaller improvement in isokinetic torque (8.8%) but no change in isometric strength. In the contralateral control arm, 1 RM and isokinetic torque increased by 12.7 and 6.5%, respectively, but isometric strength did not change. The interpolated twitch technique confirmed complete motor unit activation during a maximal isometric contraction of the elbow flexors before and after the training. Bilateral leg press training effected mean increases of 17 and 23% in isokinetic torque and dynamic lifting capacity, respectively. The mean maximal cross-sectional area of the elbow flexors (biceps brachii and brachialis) increased by 17.4% in the trained arm but did not change the control arm. The increase in the mean area of type II fibers in the biceps brachii muscle in the trained arm (30.2%) was greater than the corresponding change in the control arm (10.7%, P less than 0.05). The most significant change in the evoked contractile properties of the trained elbow flexors was the increase in twitch half-relaxation time. It is concluded that older individuals retain the potential for significant increases in strength performance and upper limb muscle hypertrophy in response to overload training.