A predictive equation for resting energy expenditure (REE) was derived from data from 498 healthy subjects, including females (n = 247) and males (n = 251), aged 19-78 y (45 +/- 14 y, mean +/- SD). Normal-weight (n = 264) and obese (n = 234) individuals were studied and REE was measured by indirect calorimetry. Multiple-regression analyses were employed to drive relationships between REE and weight, height, and age for both men and women (R2 = 0.71): REE = 9.99 x weight + 6.25 x height - 4.92 x age + 166 x sex (males, 1; females, 0) - 161. Simplification of this formula and separation by sex did not affect its predictive value: REE (males) = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 5 x age (y) + 5; REE (females) = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 5 x age (y) - 161. The inclusion of relative body weight and body-weight distribution did not significantly improve the predictive value of these equations. The Harris-Benedict Equations derived in 1919 overestimated measured REE by 5% (p less than 0.01). Fat-free mass (FFM) was the best single predictor of REE (R2 = 0.64): REE = 19.7 x FFM + 413. Weight also was closely correlated with REE (R2 = 0.56): REE = 15.1 x weight + 371.