Previous literature has indicated that contraction-induced decreases in malonyl-CoA are instrumental in the regulation of fatty acid oxidation during prolonged submaximal exercise. This study was designed to measure malonyl-CoA in human vastus lateralis muscle at rest and during submaximal exercise. Eight males and one female cycled for 70 min (10 min at 40% and 60 min at 65% maximal O2 uptake). Needle biopsies were obtained at rest and at 10 min, 20 min, and 70 min of exercise. Malonyl-CoA content in preexercise biopsy samples determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was 1.53 +/- 0.18 micromol/kg dry mass (dm). Malonyl-CoA content did not change significantly during exercise (1.39 +/- 0.21 at 10 min, 1.46 +/- 0.14 at 20 min, and 1.22 +/- 0.15 micromol/kg dm at 70 min). In contrast, malonyl-CoA content determined by HPLC in perfused rat red gastrocnemius muscle decreased significantly during 20 min of stimulation at 0.7 Hz [3.44 +/- 0.54 to 1.64 +/- 0.23 nmol/g dm, (n=9)]. We conclude that human skeletal muscle malonyl-CoA content 1) is less than reported in rat skeletal muscle at rest, 2) does not decrease with prolonged submaximal exercise, and 3) is not predictive of increased fatty acid oxidation during exercise.