The purpose of the study was to investigate differences in contractile speed, force, and fatigability of the adductor pollicis muscle between 12 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and 8 sedentary control subjects matched for age and gender. There were no differences between the patients with MS and control subjects with respect to the percentage of maximal muscle force that could be recruited during voluntary effort (95.5 ± 3.9% and 98.2 ± 2.0%, respectively, P = 0.10), the stimulation frequency/force and force/velocity relationships, the rates of force development and relaxation, fatigue resistance, and the recovery rate of adductor pollicis muscle. However, previous results from the same group of MS patients showed that quadriceps femoris muscle force and resistance to fatigue were reduced. Therefore, our data support the clinical experience that, in patients with MS, lower limb muscle function is more or earlier affected than upper limb muscle function. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.