Open Activity Monitor in the Utilities folder. Select All Processes from the Processes dropdown menu. Click twice on the CPU% column header to display in descending order. If you find a process using a large amount of CPU time (>=70,) then select the process and click on the Quit icon in the toolbar. Click on the Force Quit button to kill the process. See if that helps. Be sure to note the name of the runaway process so you can track down the cause of the problem.
If there is nothing apparent in the above, then try resetting the SMC - Intel-based Macs: Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC).