The purpose of this study was to examine the strength of the relationship between different variables of physical activity and aerobic fitness and body fat in adolescent boys and girls. Activity energy expenditure (AEE), time spent in a sedentary state, and time spent engaged in moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA, > or = 50% peak oxygen uptake, VO2peak) were assessed by the minute-by-minute heart rate monitoring method in 82 randomly selected 14- to 15-year olds (42 boys, 40 girls). Body fat was determined by measuring skinfold thicknesses. VO2peak was measured by indirect calorimetry. Somatic maturity level was determined by percentages of adult (i.e. 18 years) height attained at examination. AEE was related to aerobic fitness for both genders (boys, r = 0.30, P = 0.056; girls, r = 0.45, P = 0.003). For boys, there was a significant relationship between maturity level and VO2peak (r = 0.48, P < 0.001). For both genders, body fat was significantly and negatively related to VO2peak (r = -0.48 and r = -0.43, P < 0.01). Body fat and maturity explained 47% of the variation in VO2peak in boys, whereas AEE and body fat explained 22% of the variation in VO2peak in girls. No significant associations between physical activity variables and the data on body fat were observed. The total amount of physical activity (AEE) was related to VO2peak, at least in adolescent girls. Although VO2peak seems to be influenced by the maturity level in adolescent boys, the data support the promotion of a daily active lifestyle among young people.