Fatigue resistance of knee extensor muscles is higher during voluntary isometric contractions at short compared with longer muscle lengths. In the present study we hypothesized that this would be due to lower energy consumption at short muscle lengths. Ten healthy male subjects performed isometric contractions with the knee extensor muscles at a 30, 60, and 90 degrees knee angle (full extension = 0 degrees). At each angle, muscle oxygen consumption (m.VO2) of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis muscle was obtained with near-infrared spectroscopy. m.VO2 was measured during maximal isometric contractions and during contractions at 10, 30, and 50% of maximal torque capacity. During all contractions, blood flow to the muscle was occluded with a pressure cuff (450 mmHg). m.VO2 significantly (P < 0.05) increased with torque and at all torque levels, and for each of the three muscles. m.VO2 was significantly lower at 30 degrees compared with 60 degrees and 90 degrees and m.VO2 was similar (P > 0.05) at 60 degrees and 90 degrees . Across all torque levels, average (+/- SD) m.VO2 at the 30 degrees angle for vastus medialis, rectus femoris, and vastus lateralis, respectively, was 70.0 +/- 10.4, 72.2 +/- 12.7, and 75.9 +/- 8.0% of the average m.VO2 obtained for each torque at 60 and 90 degrees . In conclusion, oxygen consumption of the knee extensors was significantly lower during isometric contractions at the 30 degrees than at the 60 degrees and 90 degrees knee angle, which probably contributes to the previously reported longer duration of sustained isometric contractions at relatively short muscle lengths.