Low-back load during manual lifting is considered an important risk factor for the occurrence of low-back pain. Splitting a load, so it can be lifted beside the body (one load in each hand), instead of in front of the body, can be expected to reduce low-back load. Twelve healthy young men lifted 10 and 20-kg wide and narrow loads in front of the body (the single-load lifts). These single-load lifts were compared to a lifting condition in which two 10-kg loads (a total of 20 kg) were lifted beside the body (the split-load lift). Lifts were performed from an initial hand height of 29 cm with four different lifting techniques (stoop, squat, straddle and kneeling techniques). Using measured kinematics, ground reaction forces, and electromyography, low-back loading (3D net moments and spinal forces at the L5/S1 joint) was estimated. Lifting a 20-kg split-load instead of a 20-kg single-load resulted in most cases in a reduction (8-32%) of peak L5/S1 compression forces. The magnitude of the reduction was roughly comparable to halving the load mass and depended on lifting technique and load width. The effects of load-splitting could largely be explained by changes in horizontal distance between the load and L5/S1. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.