Head-on infall of two compact objects with arbitrary mass ratio is investigated using the multipolar post-Minkowskian approximation method. At the third post-Newtonian order the energy flux, in addition to the instantaneous contributions, also includes hereditary contributions consisting of the gravitational-wave tails, tails-of-tails, and the tail-squared terms. The results are given both for infall from infinity and also for infall from a finite distance. These analytical expressions should be useful for the comparison with the high accuracy numerical relativity results within the limit in which post-Newtonian approximations are valid. © 2010 The American Physical Society.