The product of the obese gene (ob) is the protein leptin, which is synthesized in and secreted from adipocytes. Fasting serum laptin concentrations are closely related to body fat content and are higher in obese than in normal-weight individuals. Leptin may contribute to body weight regulation. Overproduction of laptin in certain pathologic conditions such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) might in principle contribute to the low body fat content associated with body wasting. We measured fasting serum laptin levels by radioimmunoassay in individuals infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and in a group of healthy lean men to determine whether HIV infection increases laptin levels. Thirteen HIV- infected men aged 26 to 50 years with a body mass index (BMI) of 15 to 26 kg/m2 and 4 to 24 kg body fat (7% to 29% body fat) had serum leptin levels (3.4 ± 1.6 ng/mL) that were not elevated compared with the levels in 17 healthy men (4.0 ± 1.4 ng/mL) matched for age (23 to 47 years), BMI (18 to 26 kg/m2), and body fat (5 to 21 kg; 9% to 28%). In both groups of men, serum leptin concentrations were correlated with percent body fat and body fat content (P < .001), and these relationships were not different between the two groups. In both groups, leptin concentrations were not correlated with lean body mass (P ≤ .24). Energy intake in the HIV-infected men, assessed from 3-day intake records, was within the normal range. These findings extend the hypothesis that circulating leptin concentrations directly reflect adipose tissue mass, even in HIV infected men with low body fat content. These findings do not support the hypothesis that HIV infection is associated with high circulating leptin concentrations, and suggest that low leptin levels do not stimulate food intake in HIV-infected individuals.