Both the amount and composition of food eaten influence body-weight regulation. The purpose of this study was to determine whether and by what mechanism excess dietary fat leads to greater fat accumulation than does excess dietary carbohydrate. We overfed isoenergetic amounts (50% above energy requirements) of fat and carbohydrate (for 14 d each) to nine lean and seven obese men. A whole-room calorimeter was used to measure energy expenditure and nutrient oxidation on days 0, 1, 7, and 14 of each overfeeding period. From energy and nutrient balances (intake-expenditure) we estimated the amount and composition of energy stored. Carbohydrate overfeeding produced progressive increases in carbohydrate oxidation and total energy expenditure resulting in 75-85% of excess energy being stored. Alternatively, fat overfeeding had minimal effects on fat oxidation and total energy expenditure, leading to storage of 90-95% of excess energy. Excess dietary fat leads to greater fat accumulation than does excess dietary carbohydrate, and the difference was greatest early in the overfeeding period.