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The increasing complexity and software content of embedded systems has led to the frequent use of system software to help applications access hardware resources easily and efficiently. In this paper, we present a method for detailed analysis of real-time operating system (RTOS) power consumption. RTOSs form an important component of the system software layer. Despite the widespread use of, and significant role played by, RTOSs in mobile and low-power embedded systems, little is known about their power-consumption effects. This paper presents a method of producing a hierarchical energy-consumption profile for applications as they interact with an RTOS. As a proof-of-concept, we use our infrastructure to produce the power profiles for a commercial RTOS, μC/OS-II, running several applications on an embedded system based on the Fujitsu SPARClite processor. These examples demonstrate that an RTOS can have a significant impact on power consumption. We discuss ways in which application software can be designed to use an RTOS in a power-efficient manner. We believe that this is a first step toward establishing a systematic approach to power optimization of embedded systems containing RTOSs.