31P NMR magnetization-transfer measurements have been used to measure the flux between ATP and inorganic phosphate during steady-state isometric muscle contraction in the rat hind limb in vivo. Steady-state contraction was obtained by supramaximal sciatic nerve stimulation. Increasing the stimulation pulse width from 10 to 90 ms, at a pulse frequency of 1 Hz, or increasing the frequency of a 10-ms pulse from 0.5 to 2 Hz resulted in an increase in the flux which was an approximately linear function of the increase in the tension-time integral. The flux showed an approximately linear dependence on the calculated free cytosolic ADP concentration up to an ADP concentration of about 90 microM. The data are consistent with control of mitochondrial ATP synthesis by the cytosolic ADP concentration and indicate that the apparent Km of the mitochondria for ADP is at least 30 microM.