Malnutrition is common among individuals suffering from hypoxemic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), advanced HIV disease, and in patients with chronic, severe congestive heart failure. Although increased morbidity and mortality has been associated with weight loss in these conditions, the pathophysiology of malnutrition remains somewhat unclear for each. In COPD, the primary postulated mechanism is hypermetabolism resulting in elevated total caloric expenditure arising from increased airway resistance, increased O2 cost of ventilation, increased dietary induced thermogenesis, inefficient substrate use and perhaps, increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines. In AIDS, postulated mechanisms include hypermetabolism arising from increased activation of proinflammatory cytokines, along with futile cycling of fatty acids and de novo lipogenesis early in the course of HIV infection; intestinal malabsorption and anorexia also play a role in many inflicted individuals. In cardiac cachexia, dietary and metabolic factors, and levels and activity of cytokines, thyroid hormone, catecholamines and cortisol have been suggested as being responsible for causing weight loss in a most cases.