In this study data originating from complete metabolic trials with cattle of both sexes, fed 337 rations at feed intake levels between one to three times maintenance energy requirement were used to regress the total CH4 emission to the level of DM intake and to the nutrient composition, respectively. A major component of the measured CH4 emission cannot be explained by DM intake but is rather due to differences in dietary nutrient composition. The amount of digestible nutrients especially of the carbohydrate fraction (starch, sugar, N-free residuals) are reliable to estimate CH4 release with high precision (r2 = 0.885). Its production rate increased to 1.9-fold higher levels (range 1.8-2.1) per g of N-free residuals compared to that induced per g of protein, starch or sugar, respectively. Furthermore, diets rich in fat reduced CH4 formation in the rumen. The regression equations fit a wide range of diets and diet compositions, and more importantly, they are applicable to various types of production systems.