In this paper, we investigate the performance of adaptive loading orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) under Rayleigh fading with maximal ratio-combining (MRC) diversity at the receiver. We assume that channel-state information is available at both the transmitter and the receiver. Closed-form expressions for the lower bound on the average capacity of OFDM transmission under Rayleigh fading are provided for ideal MRC diversity. Simple approximate expressions for the average capacity of the Rayleigh-fading channel are also provided for the high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) case. In the second part of this paper, a maximum-rate adaptive-loading strategy is derived for uncoded quadrature-amplitude-modulation modulated OFDM. Simple lower bound expressions and high-SNR approximations are provided for the average spectral efficiency of the maximum-rate adaptive-loaded uncoded OFDM under Rayleigh-fading channel conditions. According to the results, the performance of the uncoded adaptive-loading OFDM is about 8.5 dB inferior to the capacity bound at 10(-5) symbol error probability under frequency-selective Rayleigh fading.