We determined the effect of post exercise activity on recovery from maximal exercise. Five Standardbred horses were exercised on an inclined treadmill (+10% slope) for 2 min at 2.5 m/s followed by 2 min at 12.5 m/s (∼110% V̇O2max). They had one of 3 recovery regimens: standing on the treadmill (A), trotting at 4 m/s for 15 min followed by walking at 2 m/s for 15 min (B), or walking at 2 m/s for 30 min (C). Muscle biopsies from the m. gluteus medius and jugular blood for blood lactate determination were collected, before and after exercise and at 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 min recovery. Ten minutes after exercise, heart rate was significantly (P<0.05) higher with recoveries B and C than recovery A, but there were no differences at 20 or 30 min following exercise. Both muscle and rectal temperatures were significantly (P<0.01) lower with recovery A compared with recoveries B and C. The type of recovery had no influence on the rate of change of [ATP] or [G-6-P]. The rate of decrease in plasma and muscle [lactate] was significantly faster with recovery B than A (P<0.05). Creatine phosphate increased (P<0.05) at a faster rate with recoveries B and C than A. We conclude that ‘warm-down’ periods enhance clearance of lactate from skeletal muscle and that lactate may be utilised as a substrate by muscle during recovery from exercise.