These experiments compared oxidative and glycolytic enzyme activity in the costal and crural diaphragm in seven adult mammals (mouse, rat, rabbit, ferret, sheep, pig, cow) ranging in body mass from approximately 0.03 to 422 kg. Segments of the costal and crural diaphragm from the aforementioned species were homogenized to determine the activities of the glycolytic enzyme, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and the Krebs cycle enzyme, citrate synthase (CS). The results indicated that metabolic differences between the costal and crural diaphragm do not exist in all mammalian species. Specifically, CS activity differed (P < 0.05) between the costal and crural diaphragm (costal approximately 36% greater than crural) in only two species (rat and rabbit). Further, the oxidative capacity of the costal and crural diaphragm was significantly correlated with both breathing frequency and resting metabolic rate (r = 0.92-0.57; P < 0.05) across the species investigated. In contrast, glycolytic capacity was not significantly correlated (P > 0.05) with either breathing frequency or resting metabolic rate. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.