Equations for predicting body composition from bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) parameters are age-, sex- and population-specific. Currently there are no equations applicable to women of reproductive age in rural South Asia. Hence, we developed equations for estimating total body water (TBW), fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass in rural Bangladeshi women using BIA, with 2H2O dilution as the criterion method. Women of reproductive age, participating in a community-based placebo-controlled trial of vitamin A or β-carotene supplementation, were enrolled at 19·7 (sd 9·3) weeks postpartum in a study to measure body composition by 2H2O dilution and impedance at 50 kHz using multi-frequency BIA (n 147), and resistance at 50 kHz using single-frequency BIA (n 82). TBW (kg) by 2H2O dilution was used to derive prediction equations for body composition from BIA measures. The prediction equation was applied to resistance measures obtained at 13 weeks postpartum in a larger population of postpartum women (n 1020). TBW, FFM and fat were 22·6 (sd 2·7), 30·9 (sd 3·7) and 10·2 (sd 3·8) kg by 2H2O dilution. Height2/impedance or height2/resistance and weight provided the best estimate of TBW, with adjusted R2 0·78 and 0·76, and with paired absolute differences in TBW of 0·02 (sd 1·33) and 0·00 (sd 1·28) kg, respectively, between BIA and 2H2O. In the larger sample, values for TBW, FFM and fat were 23·8, 32·5 and 10·3 kg, respectively. BIA can be an important tool for assessing body composition in women of reproductive age in rural South Asia where poor maternal nutrition is common.