Obesity and renal failure are common manifestations in the autosomal recessive Bardet-Biedl (BB) syndrome. Because obesity and hypertension have been reported frequently in non-homozygous relatives of BB patients, we hypothesized that BB heterozygotes are predisposed to these conditions. Clinical information was collected from 34 patients of BB homozygotes, who are obligate heterozygotes. The proportion of severely overweight fathers (26.7%) was significantly higher than that in comparably aged United States white males (8.9%). We conclude that the BB gene may predispose male heterozygous carriers to obesity. If BB heterozygotes are 1% of the general population, we estimate that approximately 2.9% of all severely overweight white males carry a single BB gene. The BB parents of both sexes were also significantly taller than U.S. white men and women of comparable age.