The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between regional body composition and bone mineral density (BMD) in college females. Subjects were 12 nonathletic females (< 3 h.wk-1 of exercise) and 46 female varsity athletes: basketball (N = 14), volleyball (N = 13), gymnastics (N = 13), and tennis (N = 6). Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to determine BMD and body composition. The mean (+/- SD) age, height, weight, and menarche for the subjects were 19.9 +/- 2.1 yr, 167.9 +/- 9.4 cm, 62.1 +/- 9.0 kg, and 13.6 +/- 1.7 yr, respectively. Mean lumbar (1.327 g.cm-2), femoral neck (1.172 g.cm-2), and total body (1.200 g.cm-2) BMD of the athletes were significantly greater than nonathletes (P < 0.05) but did not differ among the teams. Significant correlations were found between regional leg BMD and leg lean tissue mass (LTM) (r = 0.59, P < 0.001) and between arm LTM and arm and lumbar BMD (r = 0.47 and 0.56, respectively). Significant correlations were also found between leg fat mass and leg BMD (r = 0.40). However, only regional LTM was a significant predictor of BMD using stepwise multiple regression. In summary, regional LTM appears to be a better predictor of BMD than regional fat mass.