Univariate and multivariate analyses of the genetic and environmental contributions to variance in adipose tissue and adipose tissue distribution were carried out in early adolescents. Stature, weight, body mass index (BMI), and five subcutaneous skinfolds were measured at half-yearly intervals in 105 MZ and DZ twin pairs from 10 to 14 years. The most parsimonious model, which provided an adequate explanation for variation in the BMI, five skinfolds, and the T/E ratio, included additive genetic and specific environmental factors. Multivariate analyses of the genetic architecture of subcutaneous fat indicated a general skinfold genetic factor, an extremity skinfold genetic factor, and skinfold specific genetic factors. This implies that all skinfolds are under control of the same set of genes, that a different set of genes partly controls extremity skinfolds, and that other genes have a small skinfold specific impact. Environmental contributions included a general skinfold environmental factor and skinfold specific environmental factors. BMI is under control of the same set of genes as skinfolds and shows high genetic correlations with trunk skinfolds, which implies that nearly the same genes may influence trunk skinfolds and the BMI. All models were fairly consistent across the age range.