Two mapping populations of a cross between the Arabidopsis thaliana accessions Col-0 and C24 were cultivated and analyzed with respect to the levels of 181 metabolites to elucidate the biological phenomenon of heterosis at the metabolic level. The relative mid-parent heterosis in the F(1) hybrids was <20% for most metabolic traits. The first mapping population consisting of 369 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) and their test cross progeny with both parents allowed us to determine the position and effect of 147 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for metabolite absolute mid-parent heterosis (aMPH). Furthermore, we identified 153 and 83 QTL for augmented additive (Z(1)) and dominance effects (Z(2)), respectively. We identified putative candidate genes for these QTL using the aracyc database (http://www.arabidopsis.org/biocyc), and calculated the average degree of dominance, which was within the dominance and over-dominance range for most metabolites. Analyzing a second population of 41 introgression lines (ILs) and their test crosses with the recurrent parent, we identified 634 significant differences in metabolite levels. Nine per cent of these effects were classified as over-dominant, according to the mode of inheritance. A comparison of both approaches suggested epistasis as a major contributor to metabolite heterosis in Arabidopsis. A linear combination of metabolite levels was shown to significantly correlate with biomass heterosis (r = 0.62).