This study aimed to examine if the faster pulmonary oxygen uptake (VO2p) phase 2 in children could be explained by increased O 2 availability or extraction at the muscle level. For that purpose, O 2 availability and extraction were assessed using deoxyhemoglobin (HHb) estimated by near-infrared spectroscopy during moderate-intensity constant load cycling exercise in children and young adults. Eleven prepubertal boys and 12 men volunteered to participate in the study. They performed one maximal graded exercise to determine the power associated with the gas exchange threshold (GET) and four constant load exercises at 90% of GET. VO2p and HHb were continuously monitored. VO2p, HHb, and estimated capillary blood flow ( Q ̇ cap ) kinetics were modelled after a time delay and characterized by the time to achieve 63% of the amplitude ($τ$) and by mean response time (MRT: time delay+$τ$), respectively. Mean values of $τ$ for VO2p (P<0.001), of MRT for HHb (P<0.01) and of MRT for Q ̇ cap (P<0.001) were significantly shorter in children. Faster VO2p kinetics have been shown in children; these appear due to both faster O 2 extraction and delivery kinetics as indicated by faster HHb and Q ̇ cap kinetics, respectively. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.