Our laboratory has developed a macronutrient self-selection paradigm (MSSP) designed to vary fat content significantly and systematically with sugar, complex carbohydrates, and protein content in a battery of foods in which fat is commonly consumed in the American diet. We have also developed a food preference questionnaire (FPQ) according to an identical design but using a list of foods mutually exclusive of those presented for selection and intake in the MSSP. Men were tested twice on both instruments, with a 4-week interval between tests. It was determined that the MSSP has strong test-retest reliability for overall fat (r = 0.91) and other macronutrient intake and total caloric intake. In addition, hunger and fullness ratings were reproducible, and fat preferences (r = 0.99) and hedonic responses to foods listed on the FPQ were highly consistent across trials. This study also demonstrated that the MSSP is a valid instrument with respect to the men's reports of habitual intake of fat (r = 0.80) and total carbohydrates on the Block food questionnaire (FQ). In addition, men's fat preferences on the FPQ were validated with respect to overall fat (r = 0.86) and total caloric intake in the MSSP and fat intake (r = 0.83) reported on the Block FQ. The MSSP also has the capability to detect a wide range of fat intake (3.06-50.35% among the present subjects), indicating that this instrument can identify individuals who differ markedly in fat intake or could detect changes in fat preference within subjects. In addition, this paradigm detected a large range of sugar and total caloric intake. It is anticipated that the use of these laboratory tools can enhance our understanding of the relationship between dietary fat intake and obesity.