The effect of meal frequency on the thermic effect of food (TEF), also referred to as dietary induced thermogenesis (DIT), was investigated in eighteen non-obese female subjects. Their metabolic rate before and after consuming the test meal was measured by open circuit indirect calorimetry using the Douglas bag technique, while the subjects were in the resting state (lying down). Eight subjects consumed a high carbohydrate-low fat (HCLF) meal providing 70, 19 and 11 per cent of the energy content from carbohydrate, fat and protein, respectively, and ten other subjects consumed a low carbohydrate-high fat (LCHF) meal providing 24, 65 and 11 per cent of the energy from carbohydrate, fat and protein, respectively. On two separate occasions, each subject consumed the appropriate diet either as one large meal containing 5040 kJ (1200 kcal) or as two smaller meals each containing 2520 kJ (600 kcal). TEF values were calculated for 6 h after the test meal and the mean values after consuming the HCLF meal were 377.0 +/- 30.0 kJ (90 +/- 7.2 kcal) and 381.0 +/- 26.5 kJ (91.0 +/- 6.3 kcal) for the one meal and the two meals, respectively. The mean TEF values for the subjects who consumed the LCHF meal wre 356.0 +/- 23.0 kJ (85.0 +/- 5.5 kcal) and 340 +/- 15.9 kJ (81.0 +/- 3.8 kcal) for the one meal and the two meals, respectively. No significant differences were found between the two feeding regimens (HCLF, P = 0.94; LCHF, P = 0.64) as well as between the compositions (P = 0.57). Thus, meal frequency and meal composition did not seem to influence the TEF.