Nutrition assessment is important during chronic respiratory insufficiency to evaluate the level of malnutrition or obesity and should include body composition measurements. The appreciation of fat-free and fat reserves in patients with chronic respiratory insufficiency can aid in designing an adapted nutritional support, e.g., nutritional support in malnutrition and food restriction in obesity. The purpose of the present study was to cross-validate fat-free and fat mass obtained by various bioelectric impedance (BIA) formulas with the fat-free and fat mass measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and determine the formulas that are best suited to predict the fat-free and fat mass for a group of patients with severe chronic respiratory insufficiency. Seventy-five patients (15 women and 60 men) with chronic obstructive and restrictive respiratory insufficiency aged 45-86 y were included in this study. Body composition was calculated according to 13 different BIA formulas for women and 12 for men and compared with DXA. Because of the variability, calculated as 2 standard deviations, of +/- 5.0 kg fat-free mass for women and +/- 6.4 kg for men for the best predictive formula, the use of the various existing BIA formulas was considered not clinically relevant. Therefore disease-specific formulas for patients with chronic respiratory insufficiency should be developed to improve the prediction of fat-free and fat mass by BIA in these patients.