Consumption of unrefined whole flour is thought to affect mineral bioavailability because it contains high levels of fibre and phytic acid. The present experiment was designed to study the absorption of minerals from diets based on wholewheat flour and white wheat flour in rats. Two groups of male Wistar rats were fed on the diets for 3 weeks and absorption and tissue retention of minerals were studied. The rats fed on the wholewheat flour diet had significantly greater food intake, weight gain, faecal excretion and intestinal fermentation than those fed on the white flour diet. Mineral intakes, except for Ca, were significantly greater in rats fed on the wholewheat flour diet (4-fold for Mg, 2-fold for Fe and Zn). A significant rise in the apparent absorption of Fe (%) and a significant decrease in the apparent absorption of Zn (%) were observed. The amounts of minerals absorbed (mg/d) were significantly enhanced (excepted for Ca) with the wholewheat flour diet. Moreover, plasma and tibia levels of Mg and plasma, liver and tibia levels of Fe were significantly increased in rats fed on the wholewheat flour diet compared with those fed on the white flour diet. In conclusion, wholewheat flour, rich in phytic acid and minerals, did not have a negative effect on mineral absorption, but rather improved the bioavailability of some minerals. Human studies are needed to confirm these rat results before extrapolation to human nutrition.