The effect of current energy intake and energy expenditure of activity on the familial transmission of five adiposity phenotypes was assessed using data from 473 nuclear families from the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Three measures of fatness, body mass index, the sum of six skinfolds, and the sum of three trunk skinfolds, and two measures of fat patterning, the ratio of trunk to extremity subcutaneous fat and the ratio of the subscapular skinfold to the sum of the subscapular and suprailiac skinfolds, were analyzed. Maximum likelihood estimates of the transmissibility of each phenotype were obtained under a pseudopolygenic model, after adjusting for the effects of (1) age within sex, and (2) current energy intake, energy expenditure of activity, and age within sex. The transmissible variance component for each phenotype was less after adjustment for age and energy than after adjustment for age alone. This difference was greater for the three measures of fatness than it was for the fat patterning phenotypes. However, even after adjusting for the effects of age, energy intake and energy expenditure, there is evidence of a low to moderate, but significant, transmissible component, which accounts for 4–22% of the variance in each of the five phenotypes. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.