The current study sought to investigate the factors, in particular anthropometric parameters, associated with an impairment of capillary permeability and lymphatic function in a large series of women complaining of a swelling syndrome. One hundred ninety-seven women with a swelling syndrome were investigated, 43 of whom were obese (body mass index [BMI]>30 kg/m2), 77 overweight (BMI=25 to 30 kg/m2). Thirty-five of the 197 women had abdominal adiposity (waist-to-hip ratio [WHR]>0.85). Capillary filtration of albumin and lymphatic function were studied by means of an isotopic test using 99mtechnetium-labeled albumin and venous compression. This test allowed measurement of interstitial albumin retention (AR) and the evaluation of lymphatic function by analyzing the radioactivity disappearance curve after removal of venous compression with the fast Fourier transform (low frequency/high frequency [LF/HF]). Body composition was studied by the bioelectrical impedance method. WHR correlated with fasting blood glucose (P=.03), serum triglyceride (P<.0001), and apoprotein B (P=.008) levels. AR was increased (> or =8 %) in 117 women (59.4%) and LF/HF (> or =1 %) in 149 cases (75.6%). Extracellular water (ECW) was increased (>107% of the theoretical value) in 144 cases (73.1%). LF/HF correlated negatively with age (P=.001), BMI (P=.006), WHR (P<.0001), and fat mass (P=.002). In the multivariate analysis taking age, BMI, and WHR as independent variables, LF/HF correlated significantly with WHR (P<.005). There was a trend to a higher prevalence of an increase in AR in the women with an increase in ECW (61.8 %) as compared with those without an increase in ECW (52.8%). We conclude that abdominal adiposity is associated with metabolic disorders secondary to insulin resistance as previously demonstrated, whereas lymphatic dysfunction is mainly associated with gynoid adiposity. Besides microcirculatory disorders, changes in the secretory regulation of hormones involved in salt and water retention are likely to play an important role in ECW excess.