The effect of different drink temperatures on the perception of exertion and exercise endurance has not been extensively investigated. Consequently, the purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of drink temperature on fluid intake and endurance during cycling in the heat. Eight healthy, non-acclimated males (26 +/- 7 years; maximum oxygen uptake, 54 +/- 5 ml kg(-1) min(-1); mean +/- S.D.) cycled to exhaustion at 34 degrees C and at 65% of their peak aerobic power, consuming a drink at either 19 degrees C (CON) or 4 degrees C (COLD). Six of the eight subjects cycled for longer during COLD, with exhaustion occurring at 62 +/- 4 min, compared to 55 +/- 4 min for CON (P < 0.05; mean +/- S.E.M.). Subjects consumed significantly more fluid during COLD compared to CON (1.3 +/- 0.3 l h(-1) compared to 1.0 +/- 0.2 l h(-1); P < 0.05). Heart rate tended to be lower by approximately 5 beats min(-1) during COLD, and rectal temperature during the second half of the exercise period was approximately 0.25 degrees C lower during the COLD trial; however, these trends were not significant (P = 0.08 and P = 0.07, respectively). No differences were observed between trials for ventilation, concentrations of prolactin, glucose and lactate or perceived exertion. It is concluded that a drink at 4 degrees C during exercise in the heat enhances fluid consumption and improves endurance by acting as a heat sink, attenuating the rise in body temperature and therefore reducing the effects of heat stress.