To experimentally investigate the effect of excess body weight or fat on maximal oxygen uptake (Vo2 max) and distance running performance, the metabolic response to maximal and submaximal treadmill running and the 12-min run performance were measured in six subjects under each of four added-weight (AW) conditions: normal body weight and 5, 10, and 15% additional external weight, added to the trunk. AW was found to systematically and significantly decrease Vo2 max expressed relative to the total weight carried (ml/min.dg TW), maximal treadmill (TM) run time and 12-min run distance, but not to systematically affect Vo2 max (1/min) or Vo2 max (ml/min.kg FFW). An increase of 5% AW was found, on the average, to decrease Vo2 max (ml/min.kg TW) 2.4 ml, the TM run time 35 sec and the 12-min run distance 89 m. These decreases were a direct consequence of the increased energy cost of running at submaximal speeds. It was concluded that changes in excess body weight can influence Vo2 max expressed relative to body weight and distance run performance independent of any change in cardiovascular capacity. Failure to distinguish the metabolic effects of body fatness from the influence of cardiorespiratory capacity may result in misleading interpretation of distance run test scores.