Basal metabolic rate, resting metabolic rate (RMR), and energy cost of selected activities were measured in six healthy young women who were participating in a study of protein requirements. The women were confined to a metabolic unit for 92 days during which they consumed a defined formula diet. The basal metabolic rate of the women was 20.7 +/- 2.6 kcal/kg body weight/day and the caloric requirement for maintenance of weight was 38.7 kcal/kg body weight/day. Basal metabolic rate varied significantly with the menstrual cycle. Basal metabolic rate decreased at menstruation and fell to its lowest point approximately 1 wk before ovulation subsequently rising until the beginning of the next menstrual period. RMR was 0.99 +/- 0.16 kcal/kg/h. The energy expenditure while sitting was 1.06 times RMR, while walking it was 2.81 times RMR, and while performing treadmill exercise it was 3.47 times RMR.