The effect of dietary supplementation with ascorbic acid or cholecalciferol on Fe utilization was studied using the metabolic balance technique, in rats in which 50% of the distal small intestine was removed, or in which the mid small intestine was transected and reanastomosed (controls). Three different diets were used. The first (basal diet) contained (g/kg dry wt): protein (casein+50 mg D, L-methionine/g) 120 and fat (medium-chain triacylglycerols, olive oil and sunflower oil, in equal parts) 40. The other diets were obtained by adding ascorbic acid (150 mg/kg diet) or cholecalciferol (0·4 mg/kg diet) to the basal diet. Apparent digestibility coefficient (ADC) and Fe retention were significantly lower in resected animals than in their respective control groups (transected rats). However, the addition of ascorbic acid or cholecalciferol to the basal diet increased the ADC and Fe retention in both transected and resected rats. Five weeks after surgery, resection also resulted in a reduced concentration of Fe in the sternum, but did not reduce the concentration of haemoglobin or serum Fe total Fe-binding capacity or the concentration of Fe in liver, testes, femur or muscle (longissimus dorsi). Supplementation with ascorbic acid increased serum Fe concentration, while the concentration of Fe in muscle was reduced by supplementation with both ascorbic acid and cholecalciferol. Neither supplementation had any effect on the Fe concentration in other tissues, on haemoglobin concentration or plasma total Fe-binding capacity. Thus, supplementation with ascorbic acid or with cholecalciferol increased Fe absorption and reduced the concentration of Fe in muscle.