Efficiency of converting dietary iron from meat, bovine hemoglobin (HB) and ferrous sulfate into hemoglobin was investigated in anemic rats. Raw or autoclaved HB, and raw, autoclaved, boiled, or baked beef round, and ferrous sulfate were mixed into diets to give 36 mg Fe/kg diet. Heat treatments increased the efficiency of converting both HB and meat iron into hemoglobin by the anemic rats. Efficiencies of conversion were 23, 30, 33, 37, 37, 36 or 60 (LSD 0.05/0.01 = 4/6), respectively, for raw HB, autoclaved HB, raw meat, autoclaved meat, boiled meat, baked meat or ferrous sulfate. An in vitro measurement of iron availability in meat correlated poorly with bioavailability determined in rats. Cooking did not significantly affect the bioavailability of meat iron.