Only slices are measured of very long segments of solute molecules that are injected into columns in chromatographic systems. Since the concentration of solute molecules changes during elution as a function of time, the observed signal should be re-constructed for a comparison of experimental results with theory. The influence of response time on the observed signal in high-performance liquid chromatography experiments was investigated in detail using a C-18 column for the measurement of caffeine in pure methanol as eluent. The response function influenced the observed signal by converting the square signal of pulse flow into a chromatographic peak. At faster linear flow rates (LFRs), the response function influenced the observed shape of the chromatographic peak, whereas diffusion dominated at slow LFRs. By convolution of the square signal with the response function, it was possible to predict the shape of the observed signal and chromatographic parameters and to provide an alternative explanation to the van Deemter equation. By using the shape of a known response function and modelling the new theory to data, it was proposed that the injected solute molecules were eluted over long distances through the chromatographic column, distances that are much longer than the physical length of the system.