We conducted a meta-analysis of 45 studies reporting basal metabolic rate (BMR) data for Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes to determine the effects of sex, age, and latitude (a proxy for climate, in humans only). BMR was normalized for body size using fat-free mass in humans and body mass in chimpanzees. We found no effect of sex in either species and no age effect in chimpanzees. In humans, juveniles differed significantly from adults (ANCOVA: P < 0.001), and senescent adults differed significantly from adults younger than 50 years (P < 0.001). Europeans differed significantly from tropical populations (P < 0.001). On the basis of these observations, we derived new equations describing the relationship between BMR and body size, and used them to predict total daily energy expenditure (TEE) in four early hominin species. Our predictions concur with previous TEE estimates (i.e. Leonard and Robertson: Am J Phys Anthropol 102 (1997) 265–281), and support the conclusion that TEE increased greatly with H. erectus. Our results show that intraspecific variation in BMR does not affect TEE estimates for interspecific comparisons. Comparisons of more closely related groups such as humans and Neandertals, however, may benefit from consideration of this variation. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.