Echolocating bats use respiratory muscles to power the production of biosonar vocalisations. The physical characteristics of these calls vary among species of bat, and variations also exist in the timing and patterns of respiratory muscle recruitment during echolocation. We recorded electromyograms from the respiratory muscles of three species of bat (Family Vespertilionidae) while the animals vocalised from stationary positions. Activity was recorded consistently from the lateral abdominal muscles (internal abdominal oblique and transversus abdominis) from all calling bats, but we found much variation within and among species. Bats in the family Vespertilionidae devoted longer periods of expiratory muscle activity to each call than did the mormoopid bat Pteronotus parnellii. These differences correlate negatively with the duration of calls. We suggest that morphological adaptations in some bats may facilitate the economic production of echolocation calls at rest.