OBJECTIVE: Normative data for cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) may vary among subjects of different races. The objectives of the present study were to: (i) establish normal standards for cardiopulmonary responses during incremental cycle ergometer testing in order to derive predictive equations for clinically useful variables during CPET of Chinese subjects; and (ii) determine the validity of existing prediction equations of maximal exercise performance for use in our local Chinese population. METHODOLOGY: The maximal and submaximal cardiopulmonary responses were analysed for 95 healthy sedentary adult Chinese subjects (48 men and 47 women; aged 20-70 years) who underwent CPET using a cycle ergometer and an incremental work-rate protocol until symptom limitation. RESULTS: Measurements, at maximal exercise, of oxygen uptake (VO2(max)), power output and heart rate were regressed on age, height, weight and gender. The predictive equations for these exercise parameters performed better than those published previously in out-sample predictive accuracy. Comparison with previous studies also showed that prediction equations of VO2(max) derived from studies based predominantly or exclusively on Caucasian populations overestimated the actual values for our subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Previously established prediction equations for maximal exercise performance during CPET based on non-Chinese populations may not be applicable to Chinese subjects in our population.