Body composition and the components of energy metabolism were examined in 12 men and women, aged 56-80 y, before and after 12 wk of resistance training. Subjects were randomly assigned to groups that consumed diets that providing either 0.8 or 1.6 g protein.kg-1.d-1 and adequate total energy to maintain baseline body weight. Fat mass decreased 1.8 +/- 0.4 kg (P < 0.001) and fat-free mass (FFM) increased 1.4 +/- 0.4 kg (P < 0.01) in these weight-stable subjects. The increase in FFM was associated with a 1.6 +/- 0.4 kg increase in total body water (P < 0.01) but no significant change in either protein plus mineral mass or body cell mass. With resistance training, the mean energy intake required for body weight maintenance increased by approximately 15%. Increased energy expenditure included increased resting metabolic rate (P < 0.02) and the energy cost of resistance exercise. Dietary protein intake did not influence these results. Resistance training is an effective way to increase energy requirements, decrease body-fat mass, and maintain metabolically active tissue mass in healthy older people and may be useful as an adjunct to weight-control programs for older adults.