Urine volume is the greatest risk factor for nephrolithiasis. High fluid intake is the first general advice given to stone-forming patients for the prevention of their recurrence. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the influence of bicarbonate-rich mineral water (1715 mg bicarbonate/l) on urinary-stone risk factors in comparison with sodium potassium citrate, a well-established treatment for urinary stones. The mineral water and sodium potassium citrate were administered in equimolar concentrations, with respect to the alkali load. All investigations were carried out in healthy male subjects aged 23–38 years. The study followed a cross-over design. All subjects received a standardized diet during the cross-over phase, which was formulated according to the dietary recommendations of the German Society of Nutrition (). On the loading day of the cross-over phase, fruit tea was substituted for either mineral water or sodium potassium citrate dissolved in fruit tea. The treatment offered during the second part of the cross-over phase was continued for a 4-week follow-up under normal dietary conditions. During the cross-over phase, there was a significant increase in urinary pH (P<0·001). There was also a significant increase in the excretion of citric acid (P<0·01), a decrease in the excretion of oxalic acid, and therefore a decrease in the relative supersaturations for calcium oxalate and uric acid. In the follow-up phase also, the relative supersaturations decreased and there were beneficial effects on the other urinary variables. The effect of the bicarbonate-rich mineral water was similar to that of the sodium potassium citrate, which suggests that it could be useful in the prevention of the recurrence of calcium oxalate and uric acid stones.