The aim of the study was to examine the utility of perceived tiredness to predict cardiac autonomic response to overload among field hockey players during the 2006 World Cup. The French Society for Sports Medicine (SFMS) questionnaire was administered at the start of the Cup to evaluate perception of tiredness. Autonomic function was assessed nine days later at the semifinal match by time and frequency domain analysis of heart rate variability. An anxiety questionnaire was administered so that the effect of precompetitive anxiety on heart rate variability could be controlled. Results showed a negative correlation between perceived tiredness scores and time domain indexes, and a positive correlation of perceived tiredness scores and the high frequency component ratio (LF/HF ratio) of heart rate variability. Anxiety did not influence the precompetitive cardiac response despite somatic anxiety's correlation with sympathetic response (LF/HF ratio) and tiredness scores. Perceived tiredness predicted the autonomic cardiac response to competitive overload. Thus, the perceived tiredness assessment would be a good early marker of fatigue and overload states during competition. © Perceptual and Motor Skills 2010.