There is some evidence to suggest that ethnic differences in energy expenditure in adults may modulate different propensities for obesity. However, there is lack of data for the components of energy expenditure in young children of different ethnic backgrounds. In this study, we examined total energy expenditure (TEE), resting energy expenditure (REE), and physical activity-related energy expenditure (AEE) in healthy prepubertal Caucasian (18 girls, 21 boys) and African-American (29 girls, 30 boys) children. TEE was measured over 14 days under free-living conditions with the doubly labeled water technique, REE was from indirect calorimetry after an overnight fast, and AEE was estimated from the difference between TEE and REE after reducing TEE by 10% to account for the thermic effect of feeding. Fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. There were no significant effects of ethnicity or gender on TEE after adjustment for FFM or for both FFM and FM. For REE, there was no effect of ethnicity, but a significant effect of gender, with a higher REE in boys after adjustment for FFM and FM (P < 0.001). For AEE, there were no significant effects of ethnicity or gender after adjustment for FFM or for FFM and FM. In conclusion, ethnicity was not a significant determinant for any of the components of energy expenditure. TEE, REE, and AEE were similar in Caucasian and African-American prepubertal children after adjustment for FFM or for FFM and FM.