In vivo P-31-nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used to measure the levels of ATP, phospho-L-arginine (PLA), and inorganic phosphate in the adductor muscle of the Antarctic scallop Adamussium colbecki and two temperate species, Aequipecten opercularis and Pecten maximus. Graded exercise regimes from light (one to two contractions) to exhausting (failing to respond to further stimulation) were imposed on animals of each species at its habitat temperature (0degrees vs. 12degreesC, respectively). NMR spectroscopy allowed noninvasive measurement of metabolite levels and intracellular pH at high time resolution (30-120-s intervals) during exercise and throughout the recovery period. Significant differences were shown between the magnitude and form of the metabolic response with increasing levels of exercise in each species. After exhaustion, short-term (first 15 min) muscle alkalosis was followed by acidosis of up to 0.2 pH units during the recovery process. Aequipecten opercularis had similar resting muscle PLA levels compared with either P. maximus or A. colbecki but used a fivefold greater proportion of this store per contraction and was able to perform only half as many claps (maximum of 24) as the other species before exhaustion. All species regenerated their PLA store at a similar rate despite different environmental temperatures. These findings argue for some cold compensation of muscular performance and recovery capacities in the Ant-arctic scallop, albeit at levels of performance similar to scallops with low activity lifestyles from temperate latitudes.