This work was designed to evaluate the role of intestinal parasites on nutritional status in three rural areas of Brazil. A total of 520 children aged 1–12 years were studied through a questionnaire concerning housing, socio-economic conditions and a 24-h food intake recall. Measurements of weight and height were also performed, and three stool samples were collected on consecutive days for parasitological analysis. Scores of the standard deviation (z-scores) for the weight-for-height and height-for-age were used to characterise the growth profile. A high prevalence of intestinal parasites was detected, with Giardia lamblia (44%), Endolimax nana (43%), Ascaris lumbricoides (41%) and Trichuris trichiura (40%) being the most prevalent. Eleven per cent of the children were classified as showing stunting. Inadequate daily caloric intake was observed in 78% of the population and the proportion of those with inadequate protein intake was 34%. Logistic regression analysis was employed for the multivariate study. Stunting was significantly associated with estimators of low economic income, inadequate protein intake and polyparasitism, especially the association between Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura.