PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of obese and underweight adolescents in Incheon area and to examine the relationship between serum cholesterol level and obesity, then to assess the nutritional condition of adolescents. METHODS: With a questionnaire regarding their demographic characteristics, blood samples were obtained from apparently healthy students aged 12 to 24 years by venipuncture at April and May, 2000. We measured the obesity index using standard body weight and the body mass index(BMI) according to the criteria established by the Korean Pediatric Society in 1998. Obesity was defined as BMI more than 95 percentile, and underweight less than 15 percentile by age and sex. RESULTS: A total of 1,456 students(M:F=685:771) aged 12 to 24 years were included in this study. The prevalence of obesity by standard body weight in adolescents in Incheon were 11.7%:mild obesity 6.5%, moderate 4.6%, and severe 0.5%. By BMI, the prevalence of obesity was 6.4% in males and 6.2% in females. In males, the prevalence of obesity in rural areas was 8.5%, lower than in urban areas(14.3%). The prevalence of underweight by obesity index was 34.1% in rural areas and 22.9% in urban areas. In females, the prevalence of obesity was 12.5% in rural areas and 19.6% in urban areas. There were no significant differences between the two regions(P=0.529). The prevalence of obesity increased with age till 16.3% of peak prevalence in 16 years of age, and then decreased. In males, the prevalence of obesity in academic and vocational school were 13.7% and 9.7%, respectively(P=0.116). In females of the academic and vocational school, the prevalence of obesity was 6.8% and 18.0%, respectively(P=0.001). In obese adolescents, serum total cholesterol was over 200 mg/dL in 6.2%. CONCLUSION: This study revealed that the prevalence of obesity in adolescents was about 12% and that the prevalence of underweight adolescents was considerably high. We think nutritional assessment and intervention are warranted for adolescent students.