Intensive cooling has been shown to increase energy expenditure (EE) during work as well as to decrease physical performance. Two different levels of moderate cooling (10 degrees C vs 15 degrees C) were studied during light endurance exercise in order to examine the effect of the increased heat loss on EE. Twelve subjects performed a 90-min low intensity exercise (100 W) on a cycle ergometer, wearing a water-cooled calorimeter suit for controlled cooling. The lower temperature resulted in a 4.3 +/- 3.8% (mean +/- SD) higher EE, increased total heat loss and lowered skin temperatures. No differences in central core body temperature, heart rate or respiratory quotient (RQ) were recorded. There was a relation between differences in the rate of heat loss and the corresponding increase in EE. Even a small increase in cooling during endurance exercise increased EE which may be a relevant problem in winter sports.