The effects of differences in mean frequency on body weight, body composition, and energy expenditure were studied in mildly food-restricted male rats. Two groups were fed ~80% of usual food intake (as periodically determined in a group of ad libitum fed controls) for 131 days. One group received all of its food in 2 meals/day and the other received all of its food in 10-12 meals/day. The two groups did not differ in food intake, body weight, body composition, food efficiency (carcass energy gain per amount of food eaten), or energy expenditure at any time during the study. Both food-restricted groups had a lower food intake, body weight gain, and energy expenditure than a group of ad libitum-fed controls. In conclusion, these results suggest that amount of food eaten, but not the pattern with which it is ingested, has a major influence on energy balance during mild food restriction.