BACKGROUND: Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, is an important health problem that is increasing with age. However, little is known about the risk factors of sarcopenia. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk factors for sarcopenia in elderly Korean men using data from the 2009 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES). METHODS: We used KNHANES data including 691 men above the age of 60. In this study, sarcopenia was defined as aLM (appendicular lean mass) / height2 +/- 2SD or more below the normal mean for young. Chi-square test and logistic regression analysis were performed to evaluate the factors associated with sarcopenia including age, marital status, income, cigarette smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and caloric intake. RESULTS: In our study population, 11.6% of the men had sarcopenia. The mean aLM/height2 in men was 6.1 kg/m2 in subjects with sarcopenia and 7.8 kg/m2 in subjects without sarcopenia, respectively. Subjects with sarcopenia tended to be older with lower BMI, and lower energy intake. Also, lower educational level and divorced/widowed status were factors associated with sarcopenia. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, old age, low BMI, and low caloric intake were associated with sarcopenia. CONCLUSION: Older age, lower BMI, and lower daily calorie intake were the risk factors for sarcopenia among Korean men over the age of 60. Therefore, an appropriate amount of calorie intake and maintenance of a normal BMI is suggested to be essential in preventing sarcopenia.