We characterized the design of the frog muscular system for jumping by comparing the properties of isolated muscle with the operating conditions of muscle measured during maximal jumps. During jumping, the semimembranosus muscle (SM) shortened with a V/Vmax (where V is shortening velocity and Vmax is maximal shortening velocity) where 90 and 100% of maximal power would be generated at 15 and 25 degrees C, respectively. To assess the level of activation during jumping, the SM was driven through the in vivo length change and stimulus conditions while the resulting force was measured. The force generated under the in vivo conditions at both temperatures was at least 90% of the force generated at that same V under maximally activated conditions. Thus the SM was nearly maximally activated, and shortening deactivation was minimal. The initial sarcomere length and duration of the stimulus before shortening were important factors that minimized shortening deactivation during jumping. Thus the frog muscular system appears to be designed to meet the three necessary conditions for maximal power generation during jumping: optimal myofilament overlap, optimal V/Vmax, and maximal activation.