Approximately 5% of Americans over age 65, or 1.5 million individuals, currently reside in the nations's 20,000 nursing homes. The authors present material that lead to three conclusions about this population. First, nutritional deficiencies are common underlying causes of adverse clinical outcomes. Second, nutritional deficiencies are frequently not recognized. Third, opportunities for preventing or correcting undernutrition exist, provided that the significant and reversible nature of the nutrient deficiencies are identified.