Fe deficiency and Fe-deficiency anaemia are common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Traditional clinical markers of Fe status can be skewed in the presence of inflammation, meaning that a patient's Fe status can be misinterpreted. Additionally, Fe absorption is known to be down-regulated in patients with active IBD. However, whether this is the case for quiescent or mildly active disease has not been formally assessed. The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between Fe absorption, Fe requirements and standard haematological indices in IBD patients without active disease. A group of twenty-nine patients with quiescent or mildly active IBD and twenty-eight control subjects undertook an Fe absorption test that measured sequential rises in serum Fe over 4 h following ingestion of 200 mg ferrous sulphate. At baseline, serum Fe, transferrin saturation, non-transferrin-bound Fe (NTBI), ferritin and soluble transferrin receptor were all measured. Thereafter (30–240 min), only serum Fe and NTBI were measured. Fe absorption did not differ between the two groups (P = 0·9; repeated-measures ANOVA). In control subjects, baseline haematological parameters predicted Fe absorption (i.e. Fe requirements), but this was not the case for patients with IBD. Fe absorption is normal in quiescent or mildly active IBD patients but standard haematological parameters do not accurately predict Fe requirements.