This is to cross-over study to assess the effectiveness of fresh young coconut water (CW), and carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage (CEB) compared with plain water (PW) for whole body rehydration and blood volume (BV) restoration during a 2 h rehydration period following exercise-induced dehydration. Eight healthy male volunteers (mean age and VO2max of 22.4 +/- 3.3 years and 45.8 +/- 1.5 ml min kg-1 respectively) exercised at 60% of VO2max in the heat (31.1 +/- 0.03 degrees C, 51.4 +/- 0.1% rh) until 2.78 +/- 0.06% (1.6 +/- 0.1 kg) of their body weight (BW) was lost. After exercise, the subjects sat for 2 h in a thermoneutral environment (22.5 +/- 0.1 degrees C; 67.0 +/- 1.0% rh) and drank a volume of PW, CW and CEB on different occasions representing 120% of the fluid loss. A blood and urine sample, and the body weight of each subject was taken before and after exercise and at 30 min intervals throughout a rehydration period. Each subject remained fasted throughout rehydration. Each fluid was consumed in three portions in separate trials representing 50% (781 +/- 47 ml), 40% (625 +/- 33 ml) and 30% (469 +/- 28 ml) of the 120% fluid loss at 0, 30 and 60 min of the 2 h rehydration period, respectively. The drinks given were randomised. In all the trials the subjects were somewhat hypohydrated (range 0.08-0.18 kg BW below euhydrated BW; p > 0.05) after a 2 h rehydration period since additional water and BW were lost as a result of urine formation, respiration, sweat and metabolism. The percent of body weight loss that was regained (used as index of percent rehydration) during CW, PW, and CEB trials was 75 +/- 5%, 73 +/- 5% and 80 +/- 4% respectively, but was not statistically different between trials. The rehydration index, which provided an indication of how much of what was actually ingested was used for body weight restoration, was again not different statistically between trials (1.56 +/- 0.14, 1.36 +/- 0.13 and 1.71 +/- 0.21 for CW, CEB and PW respectively). Although BV restoration was better with CW, it was not statistically different from CEB and PW. Cumulative urine output was similar in all trials. There were no difference at any time in serum Na+ and Cl-, serum osmolality, and net fluid balance between the three trials. Urine osmolality decreased after 1 h during the rehydration period and it was lowest in the PW trial. Plasma glucose concentrations were significantly higher compared with PW ingestion when CW and CEB were ingested during the rehydration period. CW was significantly sweeter, caused less nausea, fullness and no stomach upset and was also easier to consume in a larger amount compared with CEB and PW ingestion. In conclusion, ingestion of fresh young coconut water, a natural refreshing beverage, could be used for whole body rehydration after exercise.