A theoretical analysis of the characteristics of small personal radio antennas for the 68- to 470-MHz frequency range is given. Representing the human body by a simplified lossy dielectric structure, the influence of the body on the performance of the antenna is investigated in detail, and it is shown how antenna impedance, gain, and radiation patterns can be calculated taking the presence of the body into account. For very short antennas the results indicate that radiation from the body may dominate over the radiation contributed by the antenna itself, and that the presence of the body can increase the antenna efficiency considerably, indicating that even very short antennas may provide acceptable radiation efficiencies. The results of the theoretical work are supported by measurements on practical antennas. Quarter-wave and short antennas of the helical type are compared with respect to efficiency and radiation patterns at 80, 160, and 450 MHz, and it is demonstrated how the physical length of the antenna affects the antenna performance. The design of a very short and compact personal radio antenna is described.