OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship of intra-abdominal adipose tissue (IAAT) and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAAT) with body composition and anthropometry in children. DESIGN: Cross-sectional data analysis. SUBJECTS: 113 healty Caucasian and African-American, pre-pubertal children aged 4-10 y. MEASUREMENTS: IAAT and SAAT by single slice computed tomography at the level of the umbilicus; total fat and trunk fat by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA); anthropometric evaluation by skinfolds and circumferences. RESULTS: IAAT was most strongly correlated with abdominal skinfold (r = 0.88) and trunk fat by DEXA (r = 0.87), and SAAT with trunk fat by DEXA (r = 0.96), total fat by DEXA (r = 0.93) and waist circumference (r = 0.93). In stepwise regression, IAAT was best predicted by trunk fat from DEXA, total fat from DEXA, and abdominal skinfold (R2 = 0.85); SAAT was best predicted by trunk fat from DEXA, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal skinfold (R2 = 0.96). In the absence of DEXA data, IAAT was best predicted by abdominal skinfold, ethnicity and subscapular skinfold (R2 = 0.82) and SAAT was best predicted by waist circumference subscapular skinfold, height and abdominal skinfold (R2 = 0.92). The prediction equations with and without DEXA were successfully cross-validated in an independent sample of 12 additional measures of IAAT and SAAT. CONCLUSION: These data provide useful information that can help in the interpretation of anthropometric data with regard to body fat distribution. IAAT and SAAT can be accurately estimated in Caucasian and African-American prepubertal children from anthropometry with and without the availability of DEXA data.