Effects on force of changes of the position of extensor digitorum longus muscle (EDL) relative to surrounding tissues were investigated in rat. Connective tissue at the muscle bellies of tibialis anterior (TA), extensor hallucis longus (EHL) and EDL was left intact, to allow myofascial force transmission. The position of EDL muscle was altered, without changing EDL muscle-tendon complex length, and force exerted at proximal and distal tendons of EDL as well as summed force exerted at the distal tendons of TA and EHL muscles (TA+EHL) were measured. Proximal and distal EDL forces as well as distal TA+EHL force changed significantly on repositioning EDL muscle. These muscle position-force characteristics were assessed at two EDL lengths and two TA+EHL lengths. It was shown that changes of muscle force with length changes of a muscle is the result of the length changes per se, as well as of changes of relative position of parts of the muscle. It is concluded that in addition to length, muscle position relative to its surroundings co-determines isometric muscle force. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.