In twenty-eight healthy subjects, ten men and eighteen women, with a range in body mass index (BMI) of 17.9–31.6 kg/m2 and an age range 20–60 years, body composition was estimated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), skinfold anthropometry (SFA) and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) of the ‘whole body’and body segments. In thirteen subjects muscle mass was also estimated by 24 h urinary creatinine excretion. The relationship between fat-free mass (FFM) determined by DEXA and the impedance index of each body segment (calculated as Iength2/impedance (Z)) was analysed. The strongest correlation was between FFM (DEXA) and height2/‘whole-body’Z (Zw) (r 0.97 for the combined sexes, standard error of estimate (SEE) 2.72 kg). Separate prediction equations were found to be necessary for males and females when estimating FFM from BIA measurement of the arm (for men, r 0.93, SEE 1.98 kg; for women, r 0.75, SEE 2.87 kg). Muscle mass derived from 24 h creatinine excretion showed weak correlation with FFM (DEXA) (r 0.57, P = 0.03) and no correlation with FFM (SFA). FFM (SFA) correlated well with both FFM (DEXA) (r 0.96, SEE = 3.12 kg) and with height2/Zw (r 0.92, SEE 4.52 kg). Measurement of the impedance of the arm offers a simple method of assessing the composition of the whole body in normal individuals, and it appears comparable with other methods of assessment.