Information on the effects of age, sex, obesity and weight change on the fat distribution pattern has not been systematically reported. As an index of body fat distribution, the waist hip circumference ratio (WHR) was computed in 370 men and 177 women aged 22-86 years, participants of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. For cross-sectional analysis, initial data on the participants were analyzed; for longitudinal study, the changes in the measurements related to weight change during a 5-year follow-up were analyzed. From cross-sectional analysis: (1) waist circumference is larger in men than in women and increases progressively with age; (2) hip circumference shows no consistent age or sex differences; (3) thus, the well known sex differences in WHR are totally attributable to differences in waist circumference; (4) increases in WHR with age occur in both men and women. From longitudinal analysis of weight change: (1) changes in waist and hip circumferences are correlated directly with changes in weight in both sexes, but there are large differential sex effects; (2) in men, waist changes dominate; (3) in women, waist and hip changes are nearly the same; (4) thus, weight changes in men have large effects on the WHR, while in women changes in WHR are very small. Men, as a group, have a more dangerous fat distribution pattern than women, but men as a group will show a more beneficial pattern of change in WHR with weight control than women.