BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE There is a societal trend toward increasing obesity and a natural tendency for physical performance to decrease with age. Our purpose was to describe the adiposity of elderly women participating in a health screening and to determine the relationship between their adiposity and both observed and self-reported physical performance. METHODS Subjects were 104 communitydwelling elderly women (74.9+/-7.5 years). Their adiposity was described using body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio. Physical performance was characterized using timed sit-to-stand, unilateral standing, 25-foot walk and the Physical Functioning subscale of the SF-36. Habitual activity was summarized as the number of daily hours patients estimated they spent moving about on their feet. RESULTS The majority of women had excessive adiposity. Greater adiposity was associated with worse physical performance. Both Pearson correlations and multiple regression revealed BMI to be significantly predictive of all physical performance measures. Age added to the explanation of walking time and unilateral stance time. Time moving about contributed to the explanation of self-reported physical functioning. CONCLUSIONS Adiposity should be documented as part of the physical therapist examination of elderly women. It may be an appropriate target of intervention if physical performance is limited.