The maximal isometric moment at five different elbow joint angles was measured in 25 monozygotic and 16 dizygotic male adult twin pairs (22.4 +/- 3.7 yr). Genetic model fitting was used to quantify the genetic and environmental contributions to individual differences in isometric strength. Additive genetic factors explained 66-78% of the variance in maximal torque at 170-140-110 and 80 degrees flexion (extension = 180 degrees). At 50 degrees flexion, common and subject-specific environmental factors contributed equally to the variation. The contribution of unique environmental factors concurs with the level of variability in muscle activation and (dis)-comfort of torque production in the specific angle. The relative contribution of lever arm and force-length relationship in torque varies according to the angle. Because these factors might be genetic, this variability is reflected in the genetic contribution at the extreme angles of 170 and 50 degrees. Multivariate analyses suggested a general set of genes that control muscle area and isometric strength, together with a more specific strength factor. Genetic correlations were high (0.82-0.99). Genes responsible for arm-segment lengths did not contribute to muscle area nor to isometric strength.