Since long-term weight maintenance (WM) is a major problem, interventions to improve WM are needed. The aim of the study was to investigate whether the addition of protein to the diet might limit weight regain after a weight loss of 5-10 % in overweight subjects. In a randomised parallel study design, 113 overweight subjects (BMI 29.3 (SD 2.5) kg/m2); age 45.1 (SD 10.4) years) followed a very-low-energy diet for 4 weeks, after which there was a 6-month period of WM. During WM, subjects were randomised into either a protein group or a control group. The protein group received 30 g/d protein in addition to their own usual diet. During the very-low-energy diet, no differences were observed between the groups. During WM, the protein group showed a higher protein intake (18 % v. 15 %; P<0.05), a lower weight regain (0.8 v. 3.0 kg; P<0.05), a decreased waist circumference (-1.2 (SD 0.7) v. 0.5 (SD 0.5 ) cm; P<0.05) and a smaller increase in respiratory quotient (0.03 (SD 0.01) v. 0.07 0.01; (SD/)P <0.05) compared with the control group. Weight regain in the protein group consisted of only fat-free mass, whereas the control group gained fat mass as well. Satiety in the fasted state before breakfast increased significantly more in the protein group than in the control group. After 6 months follow-up, body weight showed a significant group x time interaction. A protein intake of 18 % compared with 15 % resulted in improved WM in overweight subjects after a weight loss of 7.5 %. This improved WM implied several factors, i.e. improved body composition, fat distribution, substrate oxidation and satiety.