In the present study the validity of EMG based methods to estimate the net moment working at the lumbar spine was investigated. Eight subjects performed a series of static and dynamic tasks. EMG was recorded from 8 locations over the back muscles. At the same time force platform and kinematic data for a linked segment analysis were collected. The net moment at the lumbar spine was calculated from the latter data and compared to EMG based estimates of the same moment. These estimates were derived from a linear regression between the EMG amplitudes and the net moments obtained during static ramp calibrations. It appeared that calibration in several postures, covering the range occurring in the tasks studied, and in a posture in the middle of this range, yielded estimates of the group averaged 10th, 50th, and 90th percentile of the net moments which were within 10% of the real value. The explained variance obtained in the calibration procedure proved not to be a good indicator of the validity of the procedure. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.