Denervation of selected ankle extensors in animals results in locomotor changes. These changes have been suggested to permit preservation of global kinematic characteristics of the hindlimb during stance. The peak ankle joint moment is also preserved immediately after denervation of several ankle extensors in the cat, suggesting that the animal's response to peripheral nerve injury may also be aimed at preserving ankle mechanical output. We tested this hypothesis by comparing joint moments and power patterns during walking before and after denervation of soleus and lateral gastrocnemius muscles. Hindlimb kinematics, ground reaction forces and electromyographic activity of selected muscles were recorded during level, downslope (-50%) and upslope (50%) walking before and 1-3 weeks after nerve denervation. Denervation resulted in increased activity of the intact medial gastrocnemius and plantaris muscles, greater ankle dorsiflexion, smaller knee flexion, and the preservation of the peak ankle moment during stance. Surprisingly, ankle positive power generated in the propulsion phase of stance was increased (up to 50%) after denervation in all walking conditions (p < 0.05). The obtained results suggest that the short-term motor compensation to denervation of lateral gastrocnemius and soleus muscles may allow for preservation of mechanical output at the ankle. The additional mechanical energy generated at the ankle during propulsion can result, in part, from increased activity of intact synergists, the use of passive tissues around the ankle and by the tendon action of ankle two-joint muscles and crural fascia. Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.