OBJECTIVE: To investigate waveform changes of compound muscle action potentials (CMAPs) related to voluntary muscle contraction and alteration of muscle length and to evaluate the effect of peripheral neuropathy on temporal and spatial summations of CMAPs. METHOD: The influence of voluntary muscle contraction and alteration of muscle length on CMAP was studied in 37 median nerves of 21 patients with median neuropathy. RESULTS: In patients with no apparent axonopathy, temporal summation was partially disturbed without significant change of spatial summation. Shortening of muscle length or voluntary contraction produced a physiologic improvement of spatial and temporal summations. There was a decrease in temporal and spatial summations, more prominent in temporal summation, with lengthening of the muscle. In axonopathy, spatial summation was markedly deteriorated with partial reduction of temporal summation. Spatial summation was not affected by the change of muscle length or voluntary contraction. Temporal summation was improved by muscle shortening or voluntary contraction and was decreased by muscle lengthening. CONCLUSION: Peripheral neuropathy has an effects on physiological spatial and temporal summations of CMAPs. Temporal summation is preferentially decreased in cases without axonopathy. When axonopathy is apparent, spatial summation is profoundly disturbed with partial reduction of temporal summation.