The 1993 ASPEN Research Workshop examined research and clinical advances in the study of human body composition. The workshop had two themes: (1) compartments of the body and their measurement, and (2) clinical applications of body composition measurements. There were 12 speakers of varied backgrounds who gave short lectures followed by panel discussions. Speakers explored the validity and potential uses of new body composition methodologies, including dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, multiple frequency bioimpedance analysis, computerized axial tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, neutron inelastic scattering, and gamma-ray resonance. The application of these methods to chronically and acutely ill hospitalized patients was described. The study of body composition is an emerging distinct research area within the broad study of human biology. This conference provided an overview of important new advances in the study of human body composition.