- A decline in the oxygen cost of exercise enhances exercise tolerance and performance. Substantial research has shown that dietary nitrate lowers the oxygen cost of exercise in sedentary humans; however, the metabolic determinants regarding how dietary nitrate influences oxygen consumption in skeletal muscle is not known. We addressed this gap in knowledge by employing a zebrafish (Danio rerio) model to study the effect of nitrate and nitrite supplementation. We hypothesize that zebrafish treated with nitrate and nitrite will respond with a decrease in oxygen consumption during exercise. We exposed zebrafish to 606.9 mg/L sodium nitrate (100 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen), 19.5 mg/L sodium nitrite (13 mg/liter nitrite-nitrogen), and control (no treatment) conditions. Using a Sievers Nitric Oxide Analyzer, we confirmed treatment by quantifying nitrate and nitrite levels in fish water before and after treatment, and in fish blood. We subjected these animals to a swim test to determine the effect of nitrate and nitrite treatment on oxygen consumption and found that nitrate exposure decreased, while nitrite exposure increased, the oxygen cost of exercise. To determine whether mitochondrial function could explain the differing effect of nitrate and nitrite on oxygen consumption, we isolated skeletal muscle mitochondria from each group and analyzed oxygen consumption using high resolution respirometry. Isolated mitochondria, exposed to various substrates of respiration exhibited no change in oxygen consumption, or ATP production during uncoupled states of respiration. We found no significant differences in the ratio of ADP:O, or mitochondrial proteins citrate synthase and ATP5A as a result of exposure. Future research will explore other aspects of energy metabolism and utilization to describe mechanisms that explain the differential oxygen consumption observed during nitrate and nitrite treatment.