Lower extremity electromyograms (EMGs), ground reaction forces, and body motion were measured during the brisk initiation of forward walking performed by 12 healthy adults, aged 20 to 82 years. Gait was initiated 20 times in response to a visual cue. During gait initiation, the body rotated about the ankles like a flexible inverted pendulum. The muscles of the lower extremities were activated stereotypically so as to create moments of force about the ankles that propelled the body toward the stance foot and into forward motion. All volunteers exhibited similar patterns of gait initiation, which were so reproducible that computer averaging of multiple steps by each person was possible. Gait initiation is a stereotyped sequence of postural shifts that culminates in forward step. Disturbances of gait initiation could result from abnormalities in postural control, movement, or their integration.