Stable carbon isotope measurements and incidences of dental caries are presented for three groups of prehistoric human skeletons from different regions of the Cape Province, South Africa. The isotopic analyses of bone collagen demonstrate the importance of marine foods in the diet and vary through time, across space, and according to sex. The incidence of dental caries ranges from 0% among heavily marine-dependent individuals from the south-western Cape coast, to 17.7% among skeletons from an archaeological site on the south coast. The extremely high incidence of caries in a hunter-gatherer population may be related to lack of fluoride in the water. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.