Elia (1992) identified the specific resting metabolic rates (K(i)) of major organs and tissues in young adults with normal weight: 200 for liver, 240 for brain, 440 for heart and kidneys, 13 for skeletal muscle, 4.5 for adipose tissue and 12 for residual mass (all units in kcal/kg per day). The aim of the present study was to assess the applicability of Elia's K(i) values for obese adults. A sample of young women (n = 80) was divided into two groups, nonobese (BMI <29.9 kg/m(2)) and obese (BMI 30.0-43.2 kg/m(2)). This study was based on the mechanistic model: REE = σ (K(i) × T(i)), where REE is whole-body resting energy expenditure measured by indirect calorimetry and T(i) is the mass of individual organs and tissues measured by magnetic resonance imaging. For each organ/tissue, the corresponding Elia's K(i) value was analyzed respectively for nonobese and obese groups by using stepwise univariate regression analysis. Elia's K(i) values were within the range of 95% confidence intervals (CIs) in the nonobese group. However, Elia's K(i) values were outside the right boundaries of 95% CIs in the obese group and a corresponding obesity-adjusted coefficient was calculated as 0.98, indicating that Elia's values overestimate K(i) by 2.0% in obese adults. Obesity-adjusted K(i) values were 196 for liver, 235 for brain, 431 for heart and kidneys, 12.7 for skeletal muscle, 4.4 for adipose tissue, and 11.8 for residual mass. In conclusion, although Elia's K(i) values were validated in nonobese women, obesity-adjustments are appropriate for application in obese women.