Golding was narrowly beaten by Belgium's Patrick Stevens, winner in 20.66, two-hundredths of a second ahead of the Londoner, with the Netherlands' Troy Douglas taking third place in 20.76. Drawn in the tight inside lane, world junior 100 metres record holder Dwain Chambers finished fifth in 20.83.
With a negligible following wind, it seemed Golding, managed by Linford Christie and recently back from a spell of warm-weather training in the United States, was destined for victory, but a late challenge saw the Belgian sneak ahead in the last few strides.
But the Blackheath Harrier refused to blame the change from American sunshine to the cold conditions in the Dutch stadium for his defeat.
"I'm not making any excuses for what happened out there," said Golding. "I always give it 110 per cent when I run. Being my first race I suppose I have to be happy."
Next weekend Golding will jet back to the US where he is taking part in the newly inaugurated professional circuit. The New York venue has attracted some of the world's finest sprinters, including Dennis Mitchell.
Banned for using drugs last year, the 1992 Olympic 100 metres bronze medallist was controversially reinstated by the US governing body. This afternoon he finished fourth ahead of Chambers in 20.78.
In her first race over the distance this year, Paula Radcliffe had to settle for third place in the 5000 metres.
Germany's Irina Mikitenko won the sprint for the line in 14:54.32 - a 1999 world best - ahead of Ayelech Worku of Ethiopia, with the British record holder clocking 14:54.61.
Ironically, Radcliffe has recently beaten both rivals. In April when breaking her own 10,000 metres record in Bilbao she finished almost a lap ahead of Mikitenko, while a week ago Worku set the pace for the first five laps before dropping out as the Bedford athlete set a new British two miles record.