The purpose of this study was to compare the influence of prolonged vibration of a hand muscle on the amplitude of the stretch reflex, motor unit discharge rate, and force fluctuations during steady, submaximal contractions. Thirty-two young adults performed 10 isometric contractions at a constant force (5.0 +/- 2.3% of maximal force) with the first dorsal interosseus muscle. Each contraction was held steady for 10 s, and then stretch reflexes were evoked. Subsequently, 20 subjects had vibration applied to the relaxed muscle for 30 min, and 12 subjects received no vibration. The muscle vibration induced a tonic vibration reflex. The intervention (vibration or no vibration) was followed by 2 sets of 10 constant-force contractions with applied stretches (After and Recovery trials). The mean electromyogram amplitude of the short-latency component of the stretch reflex increased by 33% during the After trials (P < 0.01) and by 38% during the Recovery trials (P < 0.01). The standard deviation of force during the steady contractions increased by 21% during the After trials (P < 0.05) and by 28% during the Recovery trials (P < 0.01). The discharge rate of motor units increased from 10.3 +/- 2.7 pulses/s (pps) before vibration to 12.2 +/- 3.1 pps (P < 0.01) during the After trials and to 11.9 +/- 2.6 pps during the Recovery trials (P < 0.01). There was no change in force fluctuations or stretch reflex magnitude for the subjects in the Control group. The results indicate that prolonged vibration increased the short-latency component of the stretch reflex, the discharge rate of motor units, and the fluctuations in force during contractions by a hand muscle. These adjustments were necessary to achieve the target force due to the vibration-induced decrease in the force capacity of the muscle.