The mechanisms by which sex hormones cause changes in body composition are unclear. Sex steroid deficiency might directly reduce energy expenditure/fat oxidation and thereby predispose to increased body fat. Alternatively, sex steroid deficiency could result in lean tissue loss and thus reduced energy expenditure. Our objective was to examine the independent and combined effects of acute testosterone and estrogen withdrawal on respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and resting energy expenditure (REE) in men. The objective of the study was to examine the independent and combined effects of acute estrogen and testosterone withdrawal on RER and REE in men. A total of 54 men aged 50-80 years, BMI range of 17-35 kg/m(2) underwent a 3-week eugonadal run-in hormone-treatment period involving suppression of endogenous sex steroids using letrozole and leuprolide acetate (Lupron) while sex steroid concentrations were maintained with transdermal testosterone (T) and estradiol (E). A second Lupron injection was then given and participants were randomized to one of the following four 3-week treatment groups: group A (-T, -E), group B (-T, +E), group C (+T, -E), and group D (+T, +E). REE and RER were measured via indirect calorimetry before and after the 3-week treatment period. Three-week suppression and/or repletion of estrogen or testosterone did not produce changes in RER or REE within or between groups. We conclude that abrupt changes in sex steroids does not change resting substrate oxidation, indicating that changes that can be observed after more prolonged periods of deficiency are most likely due to direct effects of sex steroids on body composition.