BACKGROUND: To investigate the effect of body temperature and moisture on body fat (%fat), volume and density by air-displacement plethysmography (BOD POD). METHODS: %fat, body volume and density by the BOD POD before (BOD PODBH) and immediately following hydrostatic weighing (BOD PODFH) were performed in 32 healthy females (age (yr) 33 +/- 11, weight (kg) 64 +/- 14, height (cm) 167 +/- 7). Body temperature and moisture were measured prior to BOD PODBH and prior to BOD PODFH with body moisture defined as the difference in body weight (kg) between the BOD PODBH and BOD PODFH measurements. RESULTS: BOD PODFH %fat (27.1%) and body volume (61.5 L) were significantly lower (P </= 0.001) and body density (1.0379 g/cm3) significantly higher (P </= 0.001) than BOD PODBH %fat (28.9%), body volume (61.7 L), and body density (1.0341 g/cm3). A significant increase in body temperature (~0.6 degrees C; P </= 0.001) and body moisture (0.08 kg; P </= 0.01) were observed between BOD PODBH and BOD PODFH. Body surface area was positively associated with the difference in %fat independent of changes in body temperature and moisture, r = 0.30, P < 0.05. CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate for the first time that increases in body heat and moisture result in an underestimation of body fat when using the BOD POD, however, the precise mechanism remains unidentified.