This study investigated the effects of heat exposure, exercise-induced dehydration and fluid ingestion on cognitive performance. Seven healthy men, unacclimatized to heat, were kept euhydrated or were dehydrated by controlled passive exposure to heat (H, two sessions) or by treadmill exercise (E, two sessions) up to a weight loss of 2.8%. On completion of a 1-h recovery period, the subjects drank a solution containing 50 g l(-1) glucose and 1.34 g l(-1) NaCl in a volume of water corresponding to 100% of his body weight loss induced by dehydration. (H1 and E1) or levels of fluid deficit were maintained (H0, E0). In the E0, H0 and control conditions, the subject drank a solution containing the same quantity of glucose diluted in 100 ml of water. Psychological tests were administered 30 min after the dehydration phase and 2 h after fluid ingestion. Both dehydration conditions impaired cognitive abilities (i.e. perceptive discrimination, short-term memory), as well as subjective estimates of fatigue, without any relevant differences between the methods. By 3.5 h after fluid deficit, dehydration (H0 and E0) no longer had any adverse effect, although the subjects felt increasingly tired. Thus, there was no beneficial effect of fluid ingestion (H1 and E1) on the cognitive variables. However, long-term memory retrieval was impaired in both control and dehydration situations, whereas there was no decrement in performance in the fluid ingestion condition (H1, E1).