The effect of addition of different dosages of caffeine (Caf) to a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution (CES) on metabolism, Caf excretion, and performance was examined. Subjects (n = 15) ingested 8 ml/kg of water placebo (Pla-W), 7% CES (Pla-CES), or 7% CES with 150, 225, and 320 mg/l Caf (CES-150, CES-225, and CES-320, respectively) during a warm-up protocol (20 min) and 3 ml/kg at one-third and two-thirds of a 1-h time trial. Performance was improved with Caf supplementation: 62.5 +/- 1.3, 61.5 +/- 1.1, 60.4 +/- 1.0, 58.9 +/- 1.0, and 58.9 +/- 1.2 min for Pla-W, Pla-CES, CES-150, CES-225, and CES-320, respectively. The postexercise urinary Caf concentration (range 1.3-2.5 microg/ml) was dose dependent and always far below the doping level of the International Olympic Committee (12 microg/ml) in all subjects. Sweat Caf excretion during exercise exceeded postexercise early-void urinary Caf excretion. Caffeinated CES did not enhance free fatty acid availability, ruling out the fact that performance improvement resulted from enhanced fat oxidation. It is concluded that addition of relatively low amounts of Caf to CES improves performance and that postexercise urinary Caf concentration remained low.