The aim of this study was to determine the relation between change in body mass index (BMI) and changes in fat mass (FM), lean soft tissue (LST), and percentage body fat (%Fat) in elderly (67.6 ± 6.0 years) women varying in race (53 black, 144 white) who underwent measurements of BMI, FM, LST, and %Fat at baseline and after 2 years. The group did not markedly change body composition over 2 years (BMI = −0.1 ± 1.5 kg/m2, P = 0.53; FM = 0.0 ± 2.8 kg, P = 0.95; LST = −0.4 ± 1.7 kg, P < 0.001; %Fat = 0.3 ± 2.0%, P = 0.06). Change in BMI predicted change in FM (r = 0.90, SEE = 1.19 kg FM, P < 0.001) but was less predictive of change in %Fat (r = 0.64, SEE = 1.54%Fat, P < 0.001). Change in BMI was curvilinearly related to change in LST adjusted for change in height (R = 0.76, SEE = 1.10 kg LST, P < 0.001). Change in BMI more strongly predicts change in FM than LST and could be used to monitor change in FM in community-dwelling women. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.