The essential constituents of a conventional oral rehydration solution (ORS) are sodium, glucose and a bicarbonate precursor. The glucose promotes sodium uptake but because these solutions are isotonic, it is insufficient to sustain calorie requirements. This paper examines the performance of a novel ORS with over three times the conventional glucose concentration, by comparing it with two leading commercial ORSs in calves with induced Escherichia coli diarrhoea. This solution showed greater ability than the current market-leading ORS to repair extracellular fluid and plasma volume and to correct both hyponatraemia and metabolic acidosis, especially in more severely affected calves. In acidotic calves it was more effective in correcting hyperkalaemia, probably by supplying glucose to promote cellular potassium uptake as well as by correcting the acidosis. It therefore appears possible to depart from the traditional isotonic formulations for calf ORSs and gain significant nutritional support while retaining effective rehydration and correction of acid-base and electrolyte disturbances. This seems especially important in young animals where energy deprivation imposes a particular penalty; the use of hypertonic ORSs should not, however, be extended to other species without further research.