During walking on a treadmill 10 human subjects (mean age 20 years) were perturbed by 100 ms pushes or pulls to the left or the right, of various magnitudes and in various phases of the gait cycle. Balance was maintained by (1) a stepping strategy (synergy), in which the foot at the next step is positioned a fixed distance outward of the 'extrapolated centre of mass', and (2) a lateral ankle strategy, which comprises a medial or lateral movement of the centre of pressure under the foot sole. The extrapolated centre of mass is defined as the centre of mass position plus the centre of mass velocity multiplied by a parameter related to the subject's leg length. The ankle strategy is the fastest, with a mechanical delay of about 200 ms (20% of a stride), but it can displace the centre of pressure no more than 2 cm. The stepping strategy needs at least 300 ms (30% of a stride) before foot placement, but has a range of 20 cm. When reaction time is sufficient, the magnitude of the total response is in good agreement with our hypothesis: mean centre of pressure (foot) position is a constant distance outward of the extrapolated centre of mass. If the reaction time falls short, a further correction is applied in the next step. In the healthy subjects studied here, no further corrections were necessary, so balance was recovered within two steps (one stride).