End-expiratory lung volumes (EELV) and expiratory flow rates were determined in 10 moderately obese (mean, 35 percent fat) and 10 relatively lean women (22 percent fat) at rest and during exercise on a treadmill at 55 and 85 percent of VO2max. Expiratory reserve volume (ERV) as a percentage of forced vital capacity (FVC) was used as an index of EELV. Differences in body weight, body fatness, and VO2max were significant (P less than 0.05). The resting EELV in the obese women was less than (P less than 0.01) that in the leaner women (32 vs 37 percent). During exercise at the two intensities, the EELV remained near the resting value in the obese women (approximately 30 percent). In contrast, the leaner women experienced an initial decrease in EELV during exercise at 55 percent of VO2max (i.e., from 37 to 32 percent) (P less than 0.01); thereafter, the EELV changed no further during exercise at 85 percent of VO2max. There were no significant differences in relative expiratory flow rates at rest or during exercise between the obese and lean women. In conclusion, moderately obese women fail to decrease their EELV during exercise in contrast to leaner women who do. A non-linear respiratory system pressure-volume curve, plus increased resistance as maximal flow is approached may combine to determine a lower limit of EELV during exercise.