Short-term (2 weeks) effects of the consumption of a high-energy (2920 kJ (700 kcal)) or low-energy (418 kJ (100 kcal)) breakfast on dietary patterns, blood variables and energy expenditure (indirect calorimetry) were compared in ten free-living healthy young men in a crossover study. During the high-energy breakfast, total energy intake was increased, the intake of protein and lipids was unchanged but the intake of carbohydrates was increased. Thus, 48 (sd 4)% of energy came from carbohydrates in the high-energy breakfast compared with 42 (sd 5)% in the low-energy breakfast. Excluding breakfast, the macronutrient composition of the diet remained identical in the two situations. After the high-energy breakfast, fasting serum triacylglycerol concentration was higher and HDL-cholesterol concentration was lower than after the low-energy breakfast. A high glycaemic response was observed in the morning after the high-energy breakfast period, while there was a peak of free fatty acids after the low-energy breakfast. The high-energy breakfast induced a strong inhibition of fat oxidation throughout the day. Although long-term adaptation to a high-energy breakfast cannot be excluded, the high-energy breakfast in this study did not appear to be favourable to health. Our results do not support the current advice to consume more energy at breakfast.