The effects of obesity, exercise, and the interaction of obesity and exercise were examined in 6 caffeine naive, untrained, nonsmoking, college males (3 lean (LV), 3 obese (OV]. Each subject received caffeine (oral, 5.83 mg X kg-1 lean body weight) or placebo (50 mg citrate) prior to 3 h of seated rest and prior to 90 min of treadmill walking (40% of their maximal aerobic power) followed by 90 min of seated recovery. Serum samples were collected at various times and analyzed for caffeine by HPLC. Pharmacokinetic analysis indicated that at rest, OV had a significantly higher absorption rate constant (Ka 0.0757 vs. 0.0397 min-1), lower elimination rate constant (Ke 0.0027 vs. 0.0045 min-1), and longer serum half-life (t1/2 4.37 vs. 2.59 h) in comparison to LV. In exercise, as well as at rest LV and OV had a large difference in the volume of distribution (43.2 vs. 101.1) (rest, 54.1 vs. 103.1). Exercise consistently resulted in a decrease in the maximal serum concentration of caffeine and the area under the curve in OV while having no consistent effect on LV. The interactive effects of obesity and exercise could not be dissociated. However, these results demonstrate that both obesity and exercise have modified the pharmacokinetics of caffeine.