Little information exists about the intensity of contraction required from knee and hip musculature during common therapeutic exercises used for patient populations. This study, therefore, was designed to compare electromyographic data obtained from the vastus medialis, rectus femoris, gluteus medius, and biceps femoris muscles during maximally resisted straight-leg-raising (SLR) exercises with EMG data obtained from the same muscles during quadriceps femoris muscle setting (QS) exercises in healthy subjects and in patients with knee pathologies. Of the 30 participants in the study, 16 had a history of knee injury or surgery. All participants performed randomly ordered trials of the SLR and QS exercises while the EMG data were recorded from surface electrodes and normalized to values derived from maximal effort isometric contraction trials. An analysis of variance demonstrated significantly greater activity (p less than .05) of the vastus medialis, biceps femoris, and gluteus medius muscles during QS exercises than during SLR exercises. The rectus femoris muscle was significantly more active (p less than .05) during SLR exercises than during QS exercises. The study demonstrated remarkably different degrees of muscle activation between the SLR and QS exercises, indicating that the exercise selected will affect the therapeutic intention.