It has previously been shown that the metabolic acidaemia induced by a continuous warm-up at the 'lactate threshold' is associated with a reduced accumulated oxygen deficit and decreased supramaximal performance. The aim of this study was to determine if an intermittent, high-intensity warm-up could increase oxygen uptake (VO2) without reducing the accumulated oxygen deficit, and thus improve supramaximal performance. Seven male 500 m kayak paddlers, who had represented their state, volunteered for this study. Each performed a graded exercise test to determine VO2max and threshold parameters. On subsequent days and in a random, counterbalanced order, the participants then performed a continuous or intermittent, high-intensity warm-up followed by a 2 min, all-out kayak ergometer test. The continuous warm-up consisted of 15 min of exercise at approximately 65% VO2max. The intermittent, high-intensity warm-up was similar, except that the last 5 min was replaced with five 10 s sprints at 200% VO2max, separated by 50 s of recovery at approximately 55% VO2max. Significantly greater (P < 0.05) peak power (intermittent vs continuous: 629 +/- 199 vs 601 +/- 204 W) and average power (intermittent vs continuous: 328 +/- 39.0 vs 321 +/- 42.4 W) were recorded after the intermittent warm-up. There was no significant difference between conditions for peak VO2, total VO2 or the accumulated oxygen deficit. The results of this study indicate that 2 min all-out kayak ergometer performance is significantly better after an intermittent rather than a continuous warm-up.