Strength training is usually associated with a reduction in fat mass and with muscle hypertrophy. The aim of the present study was to examine whether the serum free leptin index (FLI), measured by the molar excess of soluble leptin receptor (sOB-R) over leptin, is increased by 6 weeks of strength training. Eighteen male, physical education students were randomly assigned to two groups: a strength-training (n 12) and a control group (n 6). Body composition (lean body mass and body fat) determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), muscle performance and leptin, sOB-R, total testosterone and free testosterone concentrations were determined before and after training. Fat mass was reduced by 1 kg with strength training (P<0.05). Lean body mass of trained extremities was increased by 3% (P<0.05), while the concentration of free testosterone in serum was reduced by 17% (P<0.05) after training. However, despite the reduction in fat mass and free testosterone, serum leptin concentration was not significantly affected by strength training, even after accounting for the differences in body fat. By contrast, for a given fat mass, the sOB-R was increased by 13% (P<0.05) at the end of the strength-training programme, although the molar excess of sOB-R over leptin remained unchanged. Therefore, the quantity of free leptin available to bind to the target tissues was not significantly affected by the short strength-training programme, which elicited a 7% reduction in fat mass.