Rapid elbow flexion movements were studied in patients with an upper motor neuron syndrome following a stroke. The velocity of movements was slower than normal. The initial bursts of electromyographic (EMG) activity in both the agonist and antagonist muscles were prolonged. As in normal subjects, the first agonist burst increased in duration with larger movements, but it generally remained about 40 ms longer than normal. The size of the first agonist burst also increased with larger movements. A fixed linkage between burst duration and level of motor unit recruitment, together with a deficient corticospinal command, could explain the prolonged burst duration with preserved ability to modulate the burst.