The purpose of this phenomenological inquiry was to construct an explanatory model of illness in inner-city African-American adolescent males using Kleinman's Explanatory Model of Illness as a framework. Thirteen males were enrolled in this study. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were used to explore adolescents' perspectives regarding the nature, cause, prevention and responses to obesity; their perception of self; and meanings they attach to obesity with particular emphasis on existing attitudes, expectations, and values. Data analysis was achieved through a process of inductive content analysis. Findings, future research and clinical implications are discussed.