The swimming performance of two fish species, the brown trout and whitefish, having initially different swimming strategies, was measured after nine different training programs in order to relate the effects of exercise on Ca(2+) handling and oxidative capacity of swimming muscles. The time to 50% fatigue was measured during the training period, and compared with the density of dihydropyridine (DHP) and ryanodine (Ry) receptors and succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) and phosphorylase activity determined by histochemical analysis of the swimming muscles. Overall, both trained brown trout and whitefish had superior swimming performance as compared to control ones. Interestingly, the training programs had different effect on the two species studied since brown trout achieved the highest swimming performance, swimming against the water flow velocity of 2 BL s(-1) while among whitefish the best efficiency was seen after training with lower swimming velocities. Training also induced a significant increase in DHP and Ry receptor density in both species. Generally, in brown trout the most notable increase in the receptor densities was observed in red muscle sections from the fish swimming for 6 weeks against water currents of 1 BL s(-1) (DHPR 176.5 +/- 7.7% and RyR 231.4 +/- 11.8%) and white muscle sections against 2 BL s(-1) (DHPR 129.6 +/- 12.4% and RyR 161.9 +/- 15.5%). In whitefish the most prominent alterations were noted in samples from both muscle types after 6 weeks of training against water current of 1.5 BL s(-1) (DHPR 167.1 +/- 16.9% and RyR 190.4 +/- 19.4%). Finally, after all the training regimens the activity of SDH increased but the phosphorylase activity decreased significantly in both the species. To conclude, our findings demonstrate an improved swimming performance and enhanced Ca(2+) regulation and oxidative capacity after training. Moreover, there seems to be a connection between the swimming performance and receptor levels, especially in white swimming muscles of different fish species, regardless of their initially deviant swimming behaviours. However, depending on the training regimen the divergent swimming behaviours do cause a different response, resulting in the most prominent adaptational changes in the receptor levels of red muscle samples with lower swimming velocities in brown trout and with higher ones in whitefish.