BACKGROUND: Body composition and resting energy expenditure (REE) have not been examined longitudinally during puberty. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this longitudinal study was to examine the influence of pubertal maturation on REE relative to body composition in African American and white children. DESIGN: The study included 92 white and 64 African American children (mean age at baseline: 8.3 and 7.9 y, respectively) from Birmingham, AL. The children had 2-5 annual measurements of fat mass (FM), lean mass (LM), and REE. The Tanner stages of the children ranged from 1 to 5. Mixed-model repeated-measures analyses were used to test the change in REE relative to body composition with increasing Tanner stage among ethnic and sex groups. RESULTS: LM increased from Tanner stage 1 to subsequent stages. FM relative to LM decreased from Tanner stage 1 to stages 3, 4, and 5 but not from stage 1 to stage 2. The African American children had relatively higher limb LM and lower trunk LM than did the white children. REE declined with Tanner stage after adjustment for ethnicity, sex, FM, and LM. This decline was significant from Tanner stage 1 to stages 3, 4, and 5 but not to Tanner stage 2. After adjustment for age, Tanner stage, FM, and LM or LM distribution, REE was significantly higher in white than in African American children (by approximately 250 kJ/d). CONCLUSION: In a large sample of children at various Tanner stages, we found an ethnic difference in REE after adjustment for age, Tanner stage, FM, and LM that was not explained by the difference in LM distribution.