OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationships between hormonal indices of maturation and total, resting and physical activity-related energy expenditure (TEE, REE and AEE) in African American and Caucasian prepubertal children. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SUBJECTS: Sixty-four African American and 48 Caucasian prepubertal children. MEASUREMENTS: TEE (by doubly labeled water), REE (by indirect calorimetry), fat mass and fat-free mass (by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), fasting serum dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS), androstenedione, and estrone-sulfate (by radioimmunoassay). RESULTS: Serum concentrations of hormones correlated significantly with REE and TEE (r values range from 0.33 to 0.76, P < 0.001). Only androstenedione correlated significantly with AEE (r = 0.23, P < 0.05). However, these correlations were no longer significant after adjusting energy expenditure components for fat-free mass. In multiple regression models, ethnicity was not a significant determinant of any energy expenditure component after adjusting for body composition and hormone concentrations. CONCLUSION: Hormonla indices of maturation do not influence energy expenditure in this group of African American and Caucasian prepubertal children.