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The wireless ad hoc network is attracting more and more research attentions because of its infrastructureless character. A number of routing algorithms are proposed for multi-hop ad hoc networks. There is a debate in the literature that a period of route information initialization, which is defined as the initial determination of necessary route information before the transmission of real data packets, should help to improve the performance of pure on-demand routing algorithms for ad hoc networks. In this paper, we study how route information initialization affects the performance of two on-demand routing algorithms for ad hoc networks, DSR and AODV. We examined the effects of various durations of initialization time upon performance, and the effects of fixed-duration of initialization with various mobility patterns upon performance. Through simulations as well as analysis, we find that under a certain network condition, there is an optimal value of initialization duration to get the best end-to-end delay without degradation of packet delivery rate and increase of the message overhead for DSR routing protocol, while the best value does not exist for AODV. In addition, we also find that the route information initialization does help to improve DSR's end-to-end delay almost without degradation of its delivery rate for low mobility networks, however, it does not bring benefits to AODV under most circumstances.