This study was designed to examine the interactions among dietary iron (Fe), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn) and their effects on Fe status and oxidative stress in female rats. In a three-factor central composite response surface design, rats were assigned to 15 groups and fed modified AIN-93G basal diets with varying amounts of Fe and Zn (7.0, 15.5, 45.8, 135.6, or 300 micrograms/g diet) and Cu (0.5, 1.1, 3.2, 9.2, or 20 micrograms/g diet) for 6 wk. Variations in hemoglobin, hematocrit, and serum ferritin were mainly related to dietary Fe. Liver nonheme Fe was directly affected by dietary Fe and was slightly attenuated by interactions between Cu and Zn, and Zn and Fe. Serum ceruloplasmin activity was primarily determined by an interaction between Cu and Zn with substantial moderation by the quadratic effect of dietary Cu. Liver and heart total superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Cu/Zn SOD activities were directly affected by dietary Cu. Dietary Fe was the only significant, yet weak, predictor of liver thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and vitamin E content and serum triacylglycerols. Variability in serum Cu was mostly determined by the interaction between Cu and Fe, with modification from the quadratic effect of dietary Cu. Serum Zn varied with dietary Zn with a small negative influence from the interaction between Cu and Fe. In summary, Fe status was minimally influenced by dietary Zn or Cu, and Fe intakes 10-fold greater than required did not induce overt oxidative stress in female rats. In addition, measures of antioxidant capacity were primarily influenced by dietary Cu and were optimal at moderate intakes of this micronutrient.