The iron status and weighed dietary intake of healthy Asian children in Sheffield, aged 4–40 months, having been established by means of a crosssectional study undertaken over a 1-year period (Duggan et al., 1992), was studied to clarify whether or not there were any significant dietary differences between children with iron deficiency and those of normal iron status. The dietary characteristics of a subgroup of 12 unequivocally iron-deficient children were therefore compared with those of a subset of 20 ‘control’ children with normal iron status and of similar age. Iron deficiency was defined using combined biomarkers of iron status (Hercberg et al., 1987). Diets in the two groups of children were similar in many respects; observed mean energy intakes were low in comparison with EARS (Estimate of Average Requirements; DOH, 1991) but customary intake evidently sustained adequate growth. Protein and fat intakes were acceptable. The total iron intake and its haem component was low in both groups. The prominence of cow's milk as a major energy source was striking, particularly in iron-deficient children. Other differences were relatively minor, although inspection of the data suggested a trend towards more varied and mature dietary patterns among the children with normal status. We recommend targeted nutrition education to achieve more rapid progression through the stages of weaning.