AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Low physical fitness (PF) is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). Women with a history of gestational diabetes (GDM) are at risk for T2D at a young age, but the role of PF in this population is not clear. PF has also been found to correlate inversely with plasma leptin in previous studies. Here, we examine whether women who had GDM have lower PF than women after a normoglycemic pregnancy and, second, whether PF is associated with plasma leptin, independently of body fat mass. METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of 236 participants in the PPSDiab Study (cohort study of women 3-16 months after delivery, 152 after gestational diabetes (pGDM), 84 after normoglycemic pregnancy (control subjects); consecutively recruited 2011-16); medical history, physical examination with bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), whole body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (n = 154), 5-point oral glucose tolerance test, cardiopulmonary exercise testing, clinical chemistry including fasting plasma leptin; statistical analysis with Mann-Whitney U and t -test, Spearman correlation coefficient, multiple linear regression. RESULTS: Women pGDM had lower maximally achieved oxygen uptake (VO2peak/kg: 25.7(21.3-29.9) vs. 30.0(26.6-34.1)ml/min/kg; total VO2peak: 1733(1552-2005) vs. 1970(1767-2238)ml/min; p<0.0001 for both), and maximum workload (122.5(105.5-136.5) vs. 141.0(128.5-159.5)W; p<0.0001). Fasting plasma leptin correlated inversely with PF (VO2peak/kg ρ = -0.72 p<0.0001; VO2peak ρ = -0.16 p = 0.015; max. load ρ = -0.35 p<0.0001). These associations remained significant with adjustment for body mass index, or for body fat mass (BIA and MRI). CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Women with a recent history of GDM were less fit than control subjects. Low PF may therefore contribute to the risk for T2D after GDM. This should be tested in intervention studies. Low PF also associated with increased leptin levels-independently of body fat. PF may therefore influence leptin levels and signaling. This hypothesis requires further investigation.