To determine whether the increase in resting energy expenditure in cystic fibrosis is associated with the primary genetic defect (delta F508) or with declining pulmonary function, or both, we tested resting every energy expenditure prospectively in 32 male subjects (aged 7 to 39 years) who were normally nourished and had good pulmonary function. They were categorized into three genotype groups on the basis of the presence or absence of delta F508 and pancreatic function. Mean resting energy expenditure was 104% of the predicted value and was not associated with genotype. When 29 subjects with normal nutritional status but variable lung function were added to the group, there was a strong correlation between declining pulmonary function and increased resting energy expenditure. We conclude that increased resting energy expenditure in normally nourished boys and men with cystic fibrosis appears to be more closely associated with declining pulmonary function than with genotype.