Accurate determination of energy expenditure is essential in patients receiving nutritional support to meet metabolic needs. The purpose of this study was to assess and compare the energy expenditure as measured by indirect calorimetry (MEE) and estimated by 5 equations in the mechanically ventilated critically ill patients. Forty-six patients were divided into either enteral nutrition (EN) (n=l2), total parenteral nutrition (TPN) (n=16) or combined (EN plus TPN) (n=l8) groups. Patients' energy expenditure was measured by indirect calorimetry on two occasions. Anthropometric and biochemical measurements, energy expenditure and medical status (APACHE II score) were also assessed in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Taichung Veteran General hospital. No significant difference was found in the MEE among the 3 groups. The type of nutritional support did not affect MEE. Energy expenditure calculated by using Harris- Benedict, Kleiber and Liu equations times the estimated stress factor did not significantly different than the values of MEE in all groups. There were significant correlations (P<0.01) between MEE and patients' sex (r=-0.499), age (r=-0.402), height (r=0.533), knee height (r=0.431), current body weight (r=0.379), usual body weight (r=0.407), ideal body weight (r=0.466) and urinary urea nitrogen (r=0.383) in the pooled group. Results demonstrated that energy expenditure could be estimated in most critically ill patients by using Harris-Benedict, Kleiber and Liu equations if the estimated stress factor is in the reasonable value.