Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) allows noninvasive direct measurement of the three major components of body composition: lean body mass (LBM), fat body mass (FBM), and bone mineral body mass (BBM). To study the accuracy and short-term and long-term precision of body composition measurements, the authors measured body composition with DXA in 60 healthy young adults. Independent measurement of LBM (LBMK-40), obtained from the determination of the whole-body content of potassium-40 with a whole-body scintillation detector, was highly correlated with LBM determined with DXA (LBMDXA) (LBMK-40 = 1.069.LBMDXA,R2 = .996). Assessment of body composition in 10 patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and 10 patients with cystic fibrosis was performed with DXA. The AIDS patients showed a marked decrease in LBM, while in patients with cystic fibrosis, LBM and BBM were decreased. DXA measurements of body composition appeared accurate and precise enough to be of clinical relevance in detecting specific alterations of body composition.