To investigate the impact of fluid composition on rehydration effectiveness, 30 subjects (15 men and 15 women) were studied during 2 h of rehydration after a 2.5% body weight loss. In a randomized crossover design, subjects rehydrated with water (H2O), chicken broth (CB: 109.5 mmol/l Na, 25.3 mmol/l K), a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink (CE: 16.0 mmol/l Na, 3.3 mmol/l K), and chicken noodle soup (Soup: 333.8 mmol/l Na, 13.7 mmol/l K). Subjects ingested 175 ml at the start of rehydration and 20 min later; H2O was given every 20 min thereafter for a total volume equal to body weight loss during dehydration. At the end of the rehydration period, plasma volume was not significantly different from predehydration values in the CB (-1.6 +/- 1.1%) and Soup (-1.4 +/- 0.9%) trials. In contrast, plasma volume remained significantly (P < 0.01) below predehydration values in the H2O (-5.6 +/- 1.1%) and CE (-4.2 +/- 1.0%) trials after the rehydration period. Urine volume was greater in the CE (310 +/- 30 ml) than in the CB (188 +/- 20 ml) trial. Urine osmolality was higher in the CB and Soup trials than in the CE trial. Urinary sodium concentration was higher in the Soup and CB trials than in the CE and H2O trials. These results provide evidence that the inclusion of sodium in rehydration beverages, as well as consumption of a sodium-containing liquid meal, increases fluid retention and improves plasma volume restoration.