[en] Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) was studied with positron emission tomography (PET) and H(2)(15)O in the quadriceps muscle of 11 men. The subjects were submitted to simultaneous bilateral isometric contraction (5 s)-rest (5 s) cycles for 12 min, with a workload corresponding to 5% of quadriceps maximal isometric voluntary torque (QMIVT) for one thigh (5%T) and 10% of QMIVT for the other (10%T). Scans were centered at the electrodes and tissue blood flow (TBF) was evaluated in square regions of interest (ROIs) (3.5 cm(2)) in the transverse section (TS) of both thighs. The mean TBF reached 8.9 mL min(-1) 100 g(-1) in the TS of the 5%T and 11.5 mL min(-1) 100 g(-1) in the TS of the 10%T (P > 0.05). A negative linear relationship was found for both thighs between the ROI-electrode distance and the TBF (P </= 0.009). The mean percentage of activated ROIs (TBF > 5 mL min(-1) 100 g(-1)) was lower in the 5%T than in the 10%T (50.6% vs. 62.2%; P = 0.017). With NMES, the pattern of spatial recruitment appears linked to electrode proximity and is spatially extended. These results confirm the utility of combining NMES with voluntary exercise in the treatment of atrophied muscle.