Background Although low back fatigue is an important intervening factor for physical functioning among sedentary people, little is known about its possible significance in relation to the spinal posture and compensatory postural responses to unpredictable stimuli. This study investigates the effect of lumbar muscle fatigue on spinal curvature and reactive balance control in response to externally induced perturbations. Methods A group of 38 young sedentary individuals underwent a perturbation-based balance test by applying a 2 kg load release. Sagittal spinal curvature and pelvic tilt was measured in both a normal and Matthiass standing posture both with and without a hand-held 2 kg load, and before and after the Sørensen fatigue test. Results Both the peak anterior and peak posterior center of pressure (CoP) displacements and the corresponding time to peak anterior and peak posterior CoP displacements significantly increased after the Sørensen fatigue test (all at p Conclusion These findings indicate that lumbar muscle fatigue causes changes in the lumbar spinal curvature and this is functionally relevant in explaining the impaired ability to maintain balance after externally induced perturbations. This emphasizes the importance for assessing both spinal posture and reactive balance control under fatigue in order to reveal their interrelations in young sedentary adults and predict any significant deterioration in later years.