This paper outlines the rationale and design of the Study of the Effects of Diet on Metabolism and Nutrition (STEDMAN) weight loss project, in which detailed biologic profiling of three hundred and fifty obese individuals (body mass index (BMI): 30-50 kg/m(2)) will be conducted as they lose weight via seven distinct interventions. These profiles will be compared to those of fifty normal, healthy, control participants (BMI: 18.5-24.9 kg/m(2)). The interventions include the following: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, dietary interventions of differing macronutrient composition and diverse pharmacologic interventions. Outcome variables include eight conventional metabolites and CRP measured by standard clinical chemistry techniques, twenty hormones of energy balance and fuel homeostasis measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA) or by enzyme-linked Immunosorbent assay (ELISA), ten pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines measured using Luminex xMAP technology, one hundred and one intermediary metabolites measured by targeted mass-spectrometry-based methods, and physiologic variables such as body composition measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), air displacement plethysmography, and abdominal computerized tomography (CT), insulin sensitivity measured by intravenous glucose tolerance test (IV-GTT) and metabolic rate measured by indirect calorimetry. Results from this study will expand our knowledge of the biology of obesity and weight regulation and may lead to targeted strategies for its treatment and control.