This study determined whether the decline in stroke volume (SV) during prolonged exercise is related to an increase in heart rate (HR) and/or an increase in cutaneous blood flow (CBF). Seven active men cycled for 60 min at approximately 57% peak O2 uptake in a neutral environment (i.e., 27 degrees C, <40% relative humidity). They received a placebo control (CON) or a small oral dose (i.e., approximately 7 mg) of the beta1-adrenoceptor blocker atenolol (BB) at the onset of exercise. At 15 min, HR and SV were similar during CON and BB. From 15 to 55 min during CON, a 13% decline in SV was associated with an 11% increase in HR and not with an increase in CBF. CBF increased mainly from 5 to 15 min and remained stable from 20 to 60 min of exercise in both treatments. However, from 15 to 55 min during BB, when the increase in HR was prevented by atenolol, the decline in SV was also prevented, despite a normal CBF response (i.e., similar to CON). Cardiac output was similar in both treatments and stable throughout the exercise bouts. We conclude that during prolonged exercise in a neutral environment the decline in SV is related to the increase in HR and is not affected by CBF.