Changes in rectal temperature during mild exercise in the middle of the rising (11:00 h) and falling (23:00 h) phases of the circadian rhythm of resting core temperature have been compared. Seven healthy males were studied at rest, while exercising on a cycle ergometer (60 min at 80 W), and during the first 30 min of recovery. Rectal temperature, forearm blood flow, and forearm sweat rate were measured at 1 min intervals throughout. During exercise, there were significant time-of-day differences in the profiles of all three variables, and in the thresholds for increases in forearm blood flow and sweating. Forearm blood flow and sweat rate were recruited more rapidly and to a greater extent with evening exercise, and rectal temperature rose less. Analysis of covariance, with rectal temperature as the covariate, indicated the associations between it and forearm blood flow or sweating were significantly different (p<0.05) between the two times of day. There were also significant (p<0.05) time-of-day effects for forearm blood flow and sweating that were independent of rectal temperature. During recovery, rectal temperature fell more quickly in the late evening than late morning. Forearm blood flow and sweating also showed time-of-day differences, but these did not co-vary with rectal temperature. Control of rectal temperature during exercise and recovery appears to be more effective in the late evening than late morning, and differences in forearm blood flow and sweating, as well as factors independent of these two variables, contribute to this difference. The results support our "heat-gain/heat-loss modes" hypothesis.