As part of a longitudinal study aimed at assessing the dietary intakes and nutritional status of a group of long-stay mentally handicapped subjects, 15 women of menstruating age were considered for a substudy to assess the influence of intake levels of dietary iron, energy, tea, coffee and vitamin C on their iron status. The assessment comprised a week-long weighed dietary survey and the measurement of a number of haematological indices that included serum ferritin concentration. Information on duration of menses was also collected and included in the assessment. Two-fifths of the subjects assessed had a serum ferritin concentration less than 12 micrograms/l indicating iron deficiency, including one who was considered anaemic as suggested by a haemoglobin level less than 12 g/dl. Duration of menses showed a negative significant correlation with serum ferritin concentration. The mean iron intake in the group was 9.5 +/- 1.5 mg/day. Energy intakes were low and positively correlated with iron intake. Although serum ferritin showed no correlation with iron intake, it showed significant negative correlations with the daily and meal-time intakes of tea and a significant positive correlation with the meal-time intakes of vitamin C. The six iron-depleted subjects were assessed as a separate group (Group I) in comparison with the other nine subjects who had a serum ferritin concentration greater than 12 micrograms/l. The results of this assessment showed that, while there were no significant differences in duration of menses or the mean daily intakes of iron and energy between the two groups. Group I subjects had significantly higher daily and meal-time intakes of tea and significantly lower meal-time intakes of vitamin C compared to Group II subjects. The study provides some evidence suggestive of an association between the iron deficiency states observed and tea intake in adversely affecting iron status, particularly in the absence of adequate meal-time intakes of vitamin C. The findings from the study also suggest that long-stay mentally handicapped women of menstruating age, in addition to their handicap and dependency states which may often predispose them to a low dietary intake, are at particular risk of iron deficiency.