The Democratic and Republican candidates in the race for the White House will face off tonight in the first of the US presidential debates.

A record television audience is expected to see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go head to head for the first time at Hofstra University in New York.

Two national opinion polls released over the weekend show Mr Trump, the Republican candidate, and his Democratic rival locked in a dead heat.

100 million Americans and countless others around the world are expected to tune into tonight's debate as the pair match up on stage for the first time.

The debate will be moderated by NBC's Lester Holt, and the Commission on Presidential Debates has said it is not up to him to fact check any claims the candidates may make.

The topics on the agenda are listed as America's Direction, Achieving Prosperity and Securing America, but organisers say current news topics may also be raised.

The challenge for both candidates will be not to lose their tempers, as each may goad the other.

Their rivalry is intense as Mr Trump has labelled Mrs Clinton crooked and dishonest and she considers him inexperienced and unfit for the office.

The debate will last for an hour-and-a-half without any commercial breaks.

Analysis: What to watch for in the US presidential debate