Purpose: The current study sought to investigate the role of recovery intensity on the physiological and perceptual responses during cycling-based aerobic high-intensity interval training. Methods: Fourteen well-trained cyclists (V˙ O 2peak: 62 ± 9 mL kg−1 min−1) completed seven laboratory visits. At visit 1, the participants' peak oxygen consumption (V˙ O 2peak) and lactate thresholds were determined. At visits 2–7, participants completed either a 6 × 4 min or 3 × 8 min high-intensity interval training (HIIT) protocol with one of three recovery intensity prescriptions: passive (PA) recovery, active recovery at 80% of lactate threshold (80A) or active recovery at 110% of lactate threshold (110A). Results: The time spent at > 80%, > 90% and > 95% of maximal minute power during the work intervals was significantly increased with PA recovery, when compared to both 80A and 110A, during both HIIT protocols (all P ≤ 0.001). However, recovery intensity had no effect on the time spent at > 90% V˙ O 2peak (P = 0.11) or > 95% V˙ O 2peak (P = 0.50) during the work intervals of both HIIT protocols. Session RPE was significantly higher following the 110A recovery, when compared to the PA and 80A recovery during both HIIT protocols (P < 0.001). Conclusion: Passive recovery facilitates a higher work interval PO and similar internal stress for a lower sRPE when compared to active recovery and therefore may be the efficacious recovery intensity prescription.