Heart rate variability (HRV) was assessed during the short- (within 1 h) and long- (within 48 h) term recovery following a single bout of either constant (CST) or interval training (SWEET) exercise performed at the same total physical work [9.4 (0.3) kJ kg(-1)]. R-R intervals, systolic (SAP) and diastolic (DAP) arterial pressures were recorded in supine and upright positions before and 1, 24 and 48 h after the termination of the exercises in ten male subjects [mean (SEM), age 24.6 (0.6) years, height 177.2 (1.1) cm and body mass 68.5 (0.9) kg]. The parameters were also recorded in the supine position during the first 20 min following the end of the exercise. Spectral analysis parameters of HRV [total (TP), low- (LF), and high- (HF) frequency power, and LF/TP, HF/TP and LF/HF ratios] were determined over 5 min during each phase. Except for higher HF values in both supine and upright positions during the first hour following CST compared with SWEET, cardiovascular and HRV analysis responses were of the same magnitude after their termination. R-R intervals, TP, and HF/TP were significantly decreased while LF/TP and LF/HF were significantly increased during the early recovery, when compared with control values. This could be a response to the significant decrease in SAP and DAP at this time. Twenty-four and 48 h after the end of the exercise, HRV parameters were at the same levels as before exercises in the supine posture, but a persistent tachycardia continued to be observed in the upright posture, together with reduced TP values, showing that cardiovascular functions were still disturbed. The short-term HRV recovery seemed dependent on the type of exercise, contrary to the long-term recovery.