Inhibition of fatty acid synthase (FAS) induces a rapid decline in fat stores in mice, suggesting a role for this enzyme in energy homeostasis. The human FAS gene (FAS) maps to chromosome 17q25, a region previously shown to have suggestive linkage to adiposity in a genome-wide linkage scan for genetic determinants of obesity in Pima Indians. To investigate the potential role of FAS in the pathophysiology of human obesity, the FAS gene was sequenced and 13 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified. Five representative SNPs were genotyped in 216 full-blooded, nondiabetic Pima Indians for association analyses. A Val1483Ile polymorphism (GTC to ATC; allele frequency of A = 0.10) was associated with percentage of body fat and 24-h substrate oxidation rates measured in a respiratory chamber. Compared with homozygotes for the Val variant, subjects with Ile/x had a lower mean percentage of body fat (30 ± 1 vs. 33 ± 1%, P = 0.002; adjusted for age, sex, and family membership) and a lower mean carbohydrate oxidation rate (983 ± 41 vs. 1,094 ± 19 kcal/day, P = 0.03), which resulted in a lower mean 24-h respiratory quotient (0.845 ± 0.01 vs. 0.850 ± 0.01 kcal/day, P = 0.04; both adjusted for age, sex, family membership, percentage of body fat, and energy balance). Our findings indicate that the Val1483Ile substitution in FAS is protective against obesity in Pima Indians, an effect possibly explained by the role of this gene in the regulation of substrate oxidation.