The doubly labelled water method was used to estimate energy expenditure in 20 formula-fed infants (10 aged 1 month and 10 aged 4 months). We then compared the energy expenditure values with energy balance values calculated from energy intake and energy cost of growth. Our purpose was to compare various published equations for calculating CO2 expiration rates (and thus energy expenditure values) from the isotopic data. Those equations in which we used measured values for 18O and 2H isotope dilution spaces and estimated or measured values for insensible water losses yielded energy expenditure values (69.7 +/- 8.4 kcal/kg/d) that agreed most closely with energy balance data (70.3 +/- 11.9 kcal/kg/d). Equations in which we used a constant ratio of 1.03 between the 2H and 18O isotope dilution spaces resulted in energy expenditure values (66.3 +/- 10.2 kcal/kg/d) lower than those predicted by the energy balance data. Data analysis by nonlinear curve fitting compared to logarithmic transformation did not alter the estimates of energy expenditure obtained in these infants.