The impact of rehydration with glycerol on cardiovascular and thermoregulatory responses during exercise in the heat was studied in eight highly trained male cyclists. Each subject completed three dehydration-rehydration experimental trials that differed only in the rehydration treatment, each separated by 7 days. Before each experimental day, subjects dehydrated to -4% of their body weight by exercise and water restriction. The experimental treatments were as follows: no fluid (NF), glycerol bolus (1 g/kg body wt) followed by water (G), and water alone (W). Rehydration (3% body weight) was given over an 80-min period. After rehydration, subjects cycled (74% peak O2 uptake) to exhaustion in a hot and wet (37 degrees C and 48% relative humidity) environment. For G, plasma volume was expanded (P < 0.05) during rehydration and remained higher than W (P < 0.05) during exercise. Exercise time to exhaustion during G (33 +/- 4 min) was longer (P < 0.05) compared with both W (27 +/- 3 min) and NF (19 +/- 3 min). Cutaneous vascular conductance was significantly elevated (P < 0.05) during G, but G provided no other thermoregulatory or cardiovascular benefits compared with W and NF. Fluid-regulating hormones (vasopressin, aldosterone, atriopeptin, and plasma renin activity) decreased during rehydration and increased during exercise (except atriopeptin), but there were no differences between G and W. These data indicated that glycerol had little or no major effect on fluid-regulating factors during rehydration or exercise, and the improved exercise capacity in G was likely due to a greater plasma volume during exercise.