The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a physical exercise test and of voluntary hyperventilation between controls and children with absence epilepsy. Eighteen children (6 controls and 12 epileptics) were studied during rest (R), a maximal physical exercise test (15 min; PE), recovery (REC) and voluntary hyperventilation (3 min; VHPV). EEG and ECG were recorded during the experiment; respiratory parameters were measured to quantify PE; plasma levels of pH, lactate, pyruvate, glucose and antiepileptic drugs were determined. A decrease in the number of absences was observed during PE whereas an increase was observed during VHPV. We found significant positive correlations between the number of children with absences, the total number of absences for each state, frequency of absences per minute and the corresponding mean plasma pH, which demonstrate that the lower the pH is, the fewer absences occur. On the other hand, there was no relationship between the number of absences and the values of other parameters. Relations between variations of the plasma value of the pH, and thus the probable cerebral value of pH, and neuronal excitability are discussed. Our results indicate that children who suffer absence epilepsy should not be discouraged from sport practice.