Female obese Zucker rats (aged 6 wk) were randomly assigned to one of two control or one of three experimental-diet groups. Experimental diets contained 6% pyruvate (Pyr). 6% dihydroxyacetone (Dha), or 3% each pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone (Pyr-Dha). Control-group 1 was fed a normal diet ad libitum and control-group 2 was pair fed according to the experimental group with the lowest consumption. After 5 wk the rats receiving Pyr (357.5 +/- 12.7 g) were significantly lighter than pair-fed (385.9 +/- 4.9 g) and ad libitum-fed (404.3 +/- 10.1) controls. Resting oxygen consumption (mL.min-1.kg0.65) was significantly higher in Pyr-fed rats than in pair-fed controls and food-conversion efficiency was significantly decreased. Rats fed Pyr had a lower resting respiratory-exchange ratio than did ad libitum- and pair-fed controls (0.81 +/- 0.01 vs 0.88 +/- 0.01 and 0.87 +/- 0.01, respectively). Results suggest that pyruvate consumption reduced the weight gain and food-conversion efficiency of obese Zucker rats, in part by increasing resting metabolic rate and fatty acid oxidation.