The principles behind a regenerative-dose single-aliquot protocol are outlined. It is shown for three laboratory-bleached Australian sedimentary quartz samples that the relative change in sensitivity of the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) during a repeated measurement cycle (consisting of a dose followed by a 10 s preheat at a given temperature and then a 100 s exposure to blue/green light at 125°C) is very similar to that of the 110°C thermoluminescence (TL) peak measured during the preheat cycle. The absolute change in the TL sensitivity with preheat temperature is different for samples containing a natural or a regenerative dose. Furthermore, the absolute change in sensitivity in both the OSL and TL signals is non-linear with regeneration cycle, but the relative change in the OSL signal compared to the following 110°C TL measurement is well approximated by a straight line. Both signals are thought to use the same luminescence centres, and so some common behaviour is not unexpected. A new regenerative-dose protocol is presented which makes use of this linear relationship to correct for sensitivity changes with regeneration cycle, and requires only one aliquot for the estimation of the equivalent dose (De). The protocol has been applied to quartz from nine Australian sites. To illustrate the value of the regenerative-dose single-aliquot approach, the apparent values of De for 13 samples, containing doses of between 0.01 and 100 Gy, have been measured at various preheat temperatures of between 160 and 300°C, using a single aliquot for each De measurement. Excellent agreement is found between these single-aliquot estimates of De and those obtained from additive-dose multiple-aliquot and single-aliquot protocols, over the entire dose range. © 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.