Two groups of 9-15 month old Italian infants were studied, at a 9 years' interval, to evaluate and compare feeding practices and their effect on iron status. Nutritional iron supply has increased in the last decade, due to a larger use of breast milk and iron-fortified infant formulas. In 1983, 21.6% of infants were breast-fed for 5 months or more, compared with 50.6% in 1992. In 1983, 73.3% of infants were fed on fresh cow's milk by the age of 6 months, compared with 7.6% in 1992. Consequently, iron status is markedly improved. In 1983, 5% of the examined infants were anemic and 20.7% showed iron deficiency without anemia, compared with 1.3% and 10.3% respectively in 1992. Our study supports the following recommendations: after 5 months of age exclusively breast-fed infants should receive an additional 1 mg/kg/die iron supplement and iron fortified formulas should be used instead of fresh cow's milk during the first year of life.