Although a number of studies have examined the role of gastric emptying (GE) in obesity, the influences of habitual physical activity level, body composition and energy expenditure (EE) on GE have received very little consideration. In the present study, we compared GE in active and inactive males, and characterised relationships with body composition (fat mass and fat-free mass) and EE. A total of forty-four males (active n 22, inactive n 22; BMI 21–36 kg/m2; percentage of fat mass 9–42 %) were studied, with GE of a standardised (1676 kJ) pancake meal being assessed by the [13C]octanoic acid breath test, body composition by air displacement plethysmography, RMR by indirect calorimetry, and activity EE (AEE) by accelerometry. The results showed that GE was faster in active compared with inactive males (mean half-time (t
1/2): active 157 (sd 18) and inactive 179 (sd 21) min, P< 0·001). When data from both groups were pooled, GE t
1/2 was associated with percentage of fat mass (r 0·39, P< 0·01) and AEE (r − 0·46, P< 0·01). After controlling for habitual physical activity status, the association between AEE and GE remained, but not that for percentage of fat mass and GE. BMI and RMR were not associated with GE. In summary, faster GE is considered to be a marker of a habitually active lifestyle in males, and is associated with a higher AEE level and a lower percentage of fat mass. The possibility that GE contributes to a gross physiological regulation (or dysregulation) of food intake with physical activity level deserves further investigation.