This study emphasizes the importance of rainstorm events in mobilizing carbon at the soil-stream interface from tropical rainforests. Half-hourly geochemical/isotopic records over a 13.5 h period from a 20 km tropical rainforest headwater in Guyana show an order of magnitude increase in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration in less than 30 mins (10.6–114 mg/L). The composition of DOC varies significantly and includes optically invisible dissolved organic matter (iDOM) that accounts for a large proportion (4–89%) of the total DOC, quantified using size exclusion chromatography (SEC).