Based on previous studies, at least two different types of soleus Hoffmann (H) reflex modulation were likely to be found during normal human walking. Accordingly, the aim of the present study was to identify different patterns of modulation of the soleus H reflex and to examine whether or not subjects with different H reflex modulation would exhibit different walking mechanics and different EMG activity. Fifteen subjects walked across two force platforms at 4.5 km/h (+/-10%) while the movements were recorded on video. The soleus H reflex and EMG activity were recorded separately during treadmill walking at 4.5 km/h. Using a two-dimensional analysis joint angles, angular velocities, accelerations, linear velocities and accelerations were calculated, and net joint moments about the ankle, knee and hip joint were computed by inverse dynamics from the video and force plate data. Six subjects (group S) showed a suppressed H reflex during the swing phase, and 9 subjects (group LS) showed increasing reflex excitability during the swing phase. The plantar flexor dominated moment about the ankle joint was greater for group LS. In contrast, the extensor dominated moment about the knee joint was greater for the S group. The hip joint moment was similar for the groups. The EMG activity in the vastus lateralis and anterior tibial muscles was greater prior to heel strike for the S group. These data indicate that human walking exhibits at least two different motor patterns as evaluated by gating of afferent input to the spinal cord, by EMG activity and by walking mechanics. Increasing H reflex excitability during the swing phase appears to protect the subject against unexpected perturbations around heel strike by a facilitated stretch reflex in the triceps surae muscle. Alternatively, in subjects with a suppressed H reflex in the swing phase the knee joint extensors seem to form the primary protection around heel strike.