Whole-body bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) was evaluated for its reliability and accuracy in estimating body composition in children. The hypothesis that the index, body height2 divided by resistance (RI), can accurately predict fat-free body mass (FFB) and percent fat (%FAT) in children was tested on 94 caucasian children 10-14 yr old. Criterion variables were FFB and %FAT estimated using multicomponent equations developed for children. BIA measurements (resistance and reactance) were found to be reliable. Prediction accuracy (standard error of the estimate, SEE) for FFB from RI alone was 2.6 kg and for %FAT from RI and body weight was 4.2%. For RI, anthropometric variables and reactance, the SEE improved to 1.9 kg FFB. For RI and anthropometric variables, the SEE was 3.3% FAT. For anthropometric variables alone, the SEE's were 2.1 kg FFB and 3.2% FAT. Adult FFB and %FAT prediction equations cross-validated with this sample resulted in SEE's similar to those for adult samples. We conclude that RI together with anthropometry is a reliable and an acceptably accurate method of estimating FFB mass and %FAT in children.