The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of acute dietary restriction on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) in young women at two different phases of the menstrual cycle. Five young sedentary women (age 21–22 years) participated in this study. Each subject visited the laboratory eight times for measurement of EPOC. They performed cycle ergometer exercise for 60 min at a work rate corresponding to approximately 70% of V˙O2max under each four different conditions (i.e. standard diet/follicular phase (SF), standard diet/luteal phase (SL), restricted diet/follicular phase (RF) and restricted diet/luteal phase (RL)). The exercise was performed in the morning and V˙O2 was measured for the last 15 min of each hour for 7 h after the exercise. As a control, V˙O2 was also measured with an identical time schedule under the same four conditions but without exercise. EPOC was calculated as the difference of the V˙O2–time integral for 7 h between the exercise and control trial days in each of the four conditions (i.e. SL, SF, RL and RF). The diet was precisely controlled during 2 days (i.e. the test day and the day preceding it). The standard diet was 1600 kcal day–1 and the restricted diet was half of the standard diet. A two-way (dietary and menstrual cycle factors) ANOVA indicated that EPOC was significantly affected only by the dietary factor. The dietary restriction decreased EPOC compared to the standard dietary condition (SF 8·6 ± 2·1, RF 5·3 ± 1·6, SL 8·9 ± 4·8, RL 4·0 ± 1·2 l). These data indicate that for young sedentary women, EPOC is significantly lowered by prior acute dietary restriction but is not influenced by different phases of the menstrual cycle.