The influence of different substrate inclinations on gaits and metric gait parameters (relative forelimb and hind limb protraction, relative forelimb, and hind limb retraction, stride length, stance, and swing phase duration) of cotton-top tamarin locomotion was studied using high-speed video films and evaluated by descriptive and analytical statistical methods. As previously shown, lateral sequence gaits predominantly occurred on descending arboreal substrates (branchlike pole with a smaller diameter than the animal's body). Gait sequence patterns display significant dependency on substrate inclination. Cotton-top tamarins utilize lower diagonality values the more the substrate declines. This tendency leads to a greater use of lateral sequence gaits on steeply declined substrates. Conversely, these primates display the tendency to utilize higher diagonality values the more the substrate inclines leading to the predominant occurrence of diagonal sequence (DS) gaits. Duty factor index, extent of relative protraction, and relative retraction of both limb pairs as well as the relation of forelimb stance phase duration to hind limb stance phase duration is also correlated to the inclination of the substrate. Stride length and swing phase duration display no significant dependence on inclination, but are determined by the speed of the moving animal. The relevant duty factor is approximately constant at all inclinations. Integrating our results with results of other authors we propose a hypothesis for the functional relevance of a utilization of lateral sequence gaits in downward locomotion and DS gaits in upward locomotion. Our data support the notion of a wide ranging behavioral plasticity as a general primate locomotor characteristic. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.