To investigate changes in the thermic effect of a meal (TEM) during pregnancy, metabolic rate was measured in the fasting state and during the first 180 min after consumption of a standardized test meal in twenty-seven women before, and in each trimester of pregnancy. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) showed a steady increase over pregnancy: values in weeks 24 and 35 of pregnancy were significantly higher than the prepregnancy baseline (Tukey's studentized range test). The pattern of changes of postprandial metabolic rate (PPMR) was similar to that of RMR. Consequently TEM, calculated as PPMR minus RMR, did not change over pregnancy; mean TEM values (kJ/180 min) before and in weeks 13, 24 and 35 of pregnancy were 117 3 (sd 19.4), 116.4 (sd 23.7), 111.6 (sd 24.4) and 111.5 (sd 26.7) respectively. We consider changes in TEM of less than 15% to be of little importance physiologically. If true changes in TEM over pregnancy are 15 % or more we would have had a 90 % chance of observing significant changes in TEM in the present study, given the number of subjects and the methods used. Therefore, we conclude that no substantial reduction in TEM occurs during pregnancy.