The stimuli used in taste research are usually considered to be odourless. This was tested in two experiments with aqueous solutions of two representative compounds for each of the five taste qualities including umami. In the first experiment elderly and young subjects rated the intensity and pleasantness of three concentrations of the stimuli, while wearing or not wearing a noseclip. Saliva production was also measured. Blocking olfaction only influenced salivation for umami. It reduced taste intensity ratings, but as in an earlier experiment with the same compounds in food products, this effect was stronger in the young, who also liked the stimuli better wearing the noseclip. In the second experiment, another group of young people tried to detect the odours of the tastants dissolved in demineralized, double-distilled or Evian water. A considerable number of subjects could regularly detect seven of the ten tastants by olfaction and the extent to which they did correlated significantly with the reduction in taste intensity ratings for the different tastants found in the first experiment. We suggest that most tastants can be smelled and that this smell contributes to taste intensity ratings. © Oxford University Press 2005; all rights reserved.