Previous observations from this laboratory indicate that, during growth, the hyperphagia of the male genetically obese Zucker rat reaches a peak or "breakpoint" and then declines. To examine the effect of dietary macronutrient content on the course of hyperphagia, groups of male lean and obese rats were maintained from 5-28 weeks of age on powdered chow, or isocaloric diets (3.6 kcal/g) containing 72% of calories as corn oil, dextrose, or soy isolate protein (n = 5 lean and obese rats/diet). On chow, hyperphagia was maintained at a level of 7-8 g above lean control intake until a "breakpoint" was reached at 17 weeks, and obese intake declined to lean control level. On the fat diet, hyperphagia was increased to 10 g/day when a breakpoint was reached at 8 weeks. On the dextrose and protein diets, hyperphagia at a level of 3-4 g/day reached breakpoints at weeks 18 and 16, respectively. On all diets, the intakes of obese rats were precisely equal to the intakes of lean control rats by weeks 19-20. These data show that the magnitude and duration of hyperphagia in the developing obese rat are influenced by diet composition. Previously, we have proposed that the obese rat's hyperphagia arises from rapid adipocyte filling. Since high-fat diets facilitate adipocyte enlargement, the early "breakpoint" of hyperphagia seen with the high-fat diet may indicate that this feeding stimulation decreases as the fat cells of the obese rat approach maximal size.