In a previous report, it has been shown that water deprivation significantly affects the two-bottle taste preferences and one-bottle taste acceptance in rats when no food was available during tests. Since no food was available, the course of drinking was never interrupted by eating. Theoretically, if a rat faces a simultaneous choice between food and fluid, and if the course of drinking is interrupted by eating, these conditions might interfere with taste preferences, total fluid intake and eating in thirsty rats. The aims of the present experiments were: to ascertain whether food intake during both two-bottle preference and one-bottle acceptance tests in thirsty rats might be influenced by the palatability of the solutions; to verify whether the availability of food during tests influences taste preference and acceptance, and total fluid intake; to detect variations induced by dehydration on body weight and some plasma and urinary parameters that might interfere with food and fluid intake, taste preference and acceptance. Using naive rats, five groups of rats showing the same taste preferences for one of four prototypical tastes and water were selected. Then, both two-bottle preference (Expt 1) and one-bottle acceptance tests (Expt 2) were performed in rats deprived of water for either 12, 24, 36 or 48 h. The results showed that in both Expt 1 and Expt 2, inhibition of feeding and decrease of body weight during dehydration was very similar in all rats. The presence of food during the tests did not affect taste preference and acceptance. During Expt 1, after severe water deprivation (36 and 48 h), food intake was related to the palatability of the solution paired with water. When rats drank either NaCl or sucrose, they ate less food than rats drinking HCl, quinine, or water. In Expt 2, rats drinking NaCl solution as the only source of fluid ate significantly less food than all other groups. The intake of sucrose and/or NaCl solutions be may explained by two different post-ingestion effects (energetic and osmotic). Since rats drinking either sucrose or NaCl ate less food but drank more fluid, they had a significantly higher fluid/food intake ratio than that of rats who drank water, quinine, or HCl, who ate more food but drank less fluid. The increase of the fluid/food intake ratio in rats drinking sucrose or NaCl was directly correlated with the length of dehydration. Self-denial of food during dehydration may be responsible for overeating and overdrinking during the recovery period after tests. After dehydration lasting for 24 and 48 h, plasma [Na+], [protein], osmolality and haematocrit values increased but [K+] decreased. Urinary volume decreased but urinary [Na+] increased. These results are related to food and fluid intake, taste preference and acceptance after dehydration periods. Experimental Physiology (2001) 86.4, 489-498.