The aim of the study is to determine the effect of short-term hypothyroidism on serum leptin levels. For this purpose 30 patients with past medical history of thyroidectomy for differentiated thyroid carcinoma were included. Serum leptin concentrations were similar when patients were on thyrotrophin-suppressive thyroxine therapy than when were admitted 4 weeks after stopping thyroxine treatment to perform a routine 131I scan in hypothyroid status (17.0 ± s.e.m. 2.14 vs. 17.6 ± s.e.m. 2.41 ng/ml; p = n.s.). Moreover, no differences were obtained when the analysis was performed separately in men and in women. We conclude that short-term hypothyroidism does not alter serum leptin concentrations. Furthermore, our results suggest that thyroid hormones do not operate through changes in serum leptin levels to regulate energy expenditure.