Summary Main objective of this work was the study of the infiltration and recharge mechanisms in the Guarani Aquifer System (GAS) outcrop zone. The study was based on hydrogeologic monitoring, evapotranspiration and water balance in a pilot watershed. The pilot watershed (Ribeirão da Onça) is situated in the outcrop zone of the Guarani Aquifer between parallels 22°10′ and 22°15′ (south latitude) and meridians 47°55′ and 48°00′ (west longitude). For the execution of the research project, a monitoring network (wells, rain gauge and linigraph) was installed in the watershed. Data have been systematically collected during the period of a hydrological year. Water level fluctuation has been used to estimate deep recharge and subsurface storage variation. The method used to estimate the direct recharge adopted the hypothesis that the recession of the groundwater level obeys a function of power law type. Direct recharge is obtained through the difference between the actual level of an unconfined aquifer and the level indicated by extrapolation of the recession curve, in a given period. Base outflow is estimated through a mixed function (linear and exponential). Outflow in the creek has been measured with current meter and monitored continuously with a linigraph. The annual infiltration in 2005 was estimated to be 350 mm, while the deep recharge, based on water balance, appears to be 3.5% of the precipitation (1410 mm). These results indicate that the estimated long term water availability of the Guarani Aquifer System should be studied more carefully.