In response to evidence linking obesity and high amounts of dietary fat, the food industry has developed numerous reduced-fat and nonfat food items. These items frequently derive a relatively large percentage of their energy from sugars and the effect of these sugars on weight regulation is not well known. We studied the comparative effects of high- and low-sucrose, low-fat, hypoenergetic diets on a variety of metabolic and behavioral indexes in a 6-wk weight-loss program. Both diets contained approximately 4606 kJ energy/d with 11% of energy as fat, 19% as protein, and 71% as carbohydrate. The high-sucrose diet contained 43% of the total daily energy intake as sucrose; the low-sucrose diet contained 4% of the total daily energy intake as sucrose. Twenty women aged 40.6 +/- 8.2 y (mean +/- SD) with a body mass index (in kg/m2) of 35.93 +/- 4.8 consumed the high-sucrose diet; 22 women aged 40.3 +/- 7.3 y with a body mass index of 34.93 +/- 4.4 consumed the low-sucrose diet. Mixed-design analysis of variance showed a main effect of time (P < 0.01), with both diet groups showing decreases in weight, blood pressure, resting energy expenditure, percentage body fat, free triiodothyronine (FT3), urinary norepinephrine, and plasma lipids. Small but significant interactions were found between group and time in total cholesterol (P = 0.009) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (P = 0.01). Both groups showed decreases in depression, hunger, and negative mood, and increases in vigilance and positive mood with time (P < 0.01). Results showed that a high sucrose content in a hypoenergetic, low-fat diet did not adversely affect weight loss, metabolism, plasma lipids, or emotional affect.