Abstract Total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC) provides a rapid and safe noninvasive technique for the assessment of total body water in animals and man. An instrument employing this principle has been shown to measure body water in healthy Sprague-Dawley rats. With the exception of adult obesity in humans, alterations in body fluid compartments that could theoretically affect the utility of conductivity measurements have not been studied. We, therefore, applied the total body electrical conductivity measurement in rats following perturbations of body fluid/electrolyte spaces including obesity, furosemide diuresis, severe burn, and low protein diet. Our findings confirm that total body water can be accurately measured by TOBEC in conditions of abnormal body fluid distribution. However, when the ratio of intracellular to extracellular fluid is significantly reduced, such as the severe burn or low protein intake, TOBEC does not reflect the intracellular (potassium) space but does predict total water and extracellular (sodium) space.