1. Rapid force responses were elicited in single mechanically skinned fibres from extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle of the rat when the fibres were depolarized by substituting K+ in the bathing solution with Na+. The properties of these depolarization-induced responses, the responses to lowered [Mg2+], and the characteristics of the slow prolonged response ('second component') produced in 'loaded' fibres by choline chloride (ChCl) substitution, were virtually identical to those observed previously in skinned fibres from toad muscle. 2. At physiological levels of [Mg2+] (1 mM) and Ca2+ loading, application of 50 microM- to 1 mM-GTP gamma S (guanosine-5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate), a non-hydrolysable analogue of GTP) did not produce a response in any mammalian or amphibian fibre, even though the depolarization-induced coupling was totally functional. Furthermore, the presence of GTP gamma S had no apparent effect on the size, the threshold or the maximum number of responses which could be elicited by depolarization. 3. GTP gamma S did not elicit any response when excitation-contraction coupling was abolished by prolonged depolarization or by chemically skinning the fibre with saponin or by 24 h exposure to low [Ca2+] (5 mM-EGTA). 4. GDP beta S (guanosine-5'-O-(2-thiodiphosphate), 250 microM or 1 mM) neither evoked a response nor affected the responses to depolarization or caffeine. 5. When the [Mg2+] was lowered to 0.2 mM and the fibres were heavily loaded with Ca2+, addition of GTP gamma S (250 microM or 1 mM) induced a small response in about 50% of fibres, but depolarization-induced responses were not affected in any fibres. 6. Asymmetric charge movement recorded in EDL fibres with the vaseline-gap voltage clamp was not affected by the application of 1 mM-GTP gamma S to the cut ends of the fibres for up to 1 h. 7. These data imply that GTP-binding proteins (G-proteins) are not involved in coupling the voltage sensors to Ca2+ release in skeletal muscle. Furthermore, there was no evidence that G-proteins play any role in modulating the voltage sensors, though this possibility could not be totally excluded.