In a double-blind, random-order, cross-over study the effects of placebo and 100 mg of caffeine on postprandial sitting and erect blood pressure and heart rate were studied in 20 frail elderly subjects (mean age 84, range 75-93 years) after a standardized 400 K-calorie glucose drink. Maximal postprandial reduction in sitting systolic blood pressure occurred, at 60 minutes post-placebo, of - 11 mmHg (95% confidence interval -5 to -17 mmHg, P less than 0.01), and was attenuated by caffeine (P less than 0.05) with changes in systolic blood pressure, at 60 minutes post-drink, of 1 mmHg (95% CI -6 to 7 mmHg, not significant). Four subjects developed symptomatic postprandial hypotension after placebo which was prevented by caffeine. There were no significant changes in erect systolic blood pressure, postural systolic blood pressure change, sitting and erect, diastolic blood pressure and heart rate between treatment phases. Caffeine attenuates the postprandial fall in sitting blood pressure in frail elderly subjects and in particular prevented symptomatic blood pressure reductions in subjects with postprandial hypotension.