There is increasing interest in estimating skeletal muscle mass (SMM) in clinical practice. We aimed to validate a bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) prediction equation for SMM, developed in a different healthy elderly population, in a population of hospital patients aged 70 and over, by comparison with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) SMM estimates. Comparison was also made with two other previously published BIA muscle prediction equations. METHODS: Muscle measurements by BIA and DXA were compared in 117 patients with a range of clinical conditions (45 female, 72 male, mean age 75 years). RESULTS: The BIA equation used yielded an accurate estimate of DXA-derived SMM. Mean (SD) difference was 0.26(1.79) kg (ns). The two other BIA equations over-estimated SMM compared to DXA (both p <0.001), but all equations were highly correlated. CONCLUSIONS: The BIA equation used, developed in a different healthy elderly population, gave an accurate estimate of DXA-derived SMM in a population with various clinical disorders. BIA appears potentially capable to estimate SMM in clinical disorders, but the optimal approach to its use for this purpose requires further investigation.