BACKGROUND: Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has emerged as a novel player in energy homeostasis in humans and is considered a potential new target for combating obesity and related diseases. The current 'gold standard' for quantification of BAT volume and activity is cold-induced 18F-FDG uptake in BAT. However, use of this technique is limited by cost and radiation exposure. Given the fact that BAT is a thermogenic tissue, mainly located in the supraclavicular region, the aim of the current study was to investigate whether cold-induced supraclavicular skin temperature and core body temperature may be alternative markers of BAT activation in humans. SUBJECTS/METHODS: BAT volume and activity were measured in 24 healthy lean adolescent males (mean age 24.1+/-0.8 years), using cold-induced 18F-FDG uptake with PET-CT. Core body temperature was measured continuously in the small intestine with use of an ingestible telemetric capsule and skin temperature was measured by eighteen wireless iButtons attached to the skin following ISO-defined locations. RESULTS: Proximal and distal (hand/feet) skin temperatures markedly decreased upon cold exposure, while supraclavicular skin temperature significantly increased (35.2+/-0.1 vs. 35.5+/-0.1 degrees C, p = 0.001). Furthermore, cold-induced supraclavicular skin temperature positively correlated with both total (R2 = 0.28, P = 0.010) and clavicular BAT volume (R2 = 0.20, P = 0.030) and clavicular SUVmax (R2 = 0.27, P = 0.010), while core body temperature did not. CONCLUSIONS: Supraclavicular skin temperature as measured by iButtons may have predictive value for BAT detection in adult humans. This is highly desirable considering the increasing interest in pharmacological interventions to stimulate BAT in human subjects. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NTR 2473.