To examine the role of the effector dynamics of the wrist in the production of rhythmic motor activity, we estimated the phase shifts between the EMG and the task-related output for a rhythmic isometric torque production task and an oscillatory movement, and found a substantial difference (45-52°) between the two. For both tasks, the relation between EMG and task-related output (torque or displacement) was adequately reproduced with a physiologically motivated musculoskeletal model. The model simulations demonstrated the importance of the contribution of passive structures to the overall dynamics and provided an account for the observed phase shifts in the dynamic task. Additional simulations of the musculoskeletal model with added load suggested that particular changes in the phase relation between EMG and movement may follow largely from the intrinsic muscle dynamics, rather than being the result of adaptations in the neural control of joint stiffness. The implications of these results are discussed in relation to (models of) interlimb coordination in rhythmic tasks. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.