This research derived regression equations for predicting maximal heart rate (MHR) and examined the relationship between relative oxygen consumption (VO2) and heart rate (HR) in obese (N = 86, body fat > 30%, hydrostatic weighing) compared with normal-weight (N = 51, body fat < or = 30%) adults. Simultaneous measurements of HR and VO2 were recorded at rest and every minute during a maximal graded exercise test. When MHR was regressed on age, two distinct equations for the obese and normalweights were generated. The relationship between %MHR and %max VO2 was similar between groups (r = 0.83, obese; r = 0.87 normalweights). Likewise, when %max VO2 was regressed on %max heart rate range similar equations were derived fro the obese (r = 0.81) and normalweights (r = 0.84). Correlation between Karvonen's predicted HR at a submaximal VO2 and the true HR at that VO2 was 0.88, regardless of adiposity. These data indicate that when predicting MHR in normalweights the equation 220-Age can be used, but for obese individuals the equation 200-0.5 x Age is more accurate; each having 12 as a standard error of estimate. Once MHR is determined, either the straight percentage technique or Karvonen's method would be appropriate for prescribing exercise intensity for both populations.