Purpose To compare the ankle plantar-flexor muscle-tendon mechanical behaviour during barefoot and shod forefoot running. Methods Thirteen highly trained forefoot runners performed five overground steady-state running trials (4.5 ± 0.5 m.s-1) while barefoot and shod. Three-dimensional kinematic and ground reaction force data were collected and used as inputs for musculoskeletal modelling. Muscle-tendon behaviour of the ankle plantar-flexors (soleus; medial gastrocnemius; and lateral gastrocnemius) were estimated across the stance phase and compared between barefoot and shod running using a two-way multivariate analysis of variance. Results During barefoot running peak muscle-tendon unit (MTU) power generation was 16.5% (p = 0.01) higher compared to shod running. Total positive MTU work was 18.5% (p = 0.002) higher during barefoot running compared to shod running. The total sum of tendon elastic strain energy was 8% (p = 0.036) greater during barefoot compared to shod running, however the relative contribution of tendon and muscle fibres to muscle-tendon unit positive work was not different between conditions. Conclusion Barefoot forefoot running demands greater muscle and tendon work than shod forefoot running, but the relative contribution of tendon strain energy to overall muscle-tendon unit work was not greater.