The physiological effects on submaximal and maximal exercise of three methods commonly used by athletes for achieving rapid weight loss were determined by measuring cardiorespiratory variables in 62 nonendurance athletes. A mean weight loss of 4.1% was achieved by those who followed either a sauna (SAU), diuretic (DIU), or exercise (ACT) protocol, compared with the average weight loss of 1.2% in the control group. At maximal exercise O2 consumption, O2 pulse, blood lactate concentration, and work load decreased in SAU and DIU groups relative to the ACT group, whereas only a few differences were observed at the aerobic threshold. Weight loss achieved over a 48-h period was less detrimental to an athlete than was a more rapid (24-h) weight reduction achieved through sauna bathing or the use of diuretics. We conclude that not only the quantity of weight loss but also the method itself may limit physical performance.