In order to induce a range of vitamin A-deficient states in young growing rats and to study the effect of vitamin A deficiency on Fe status, we designed the following two-generation experiment. Dams were fed on diets with one of five vitamin A levels from 2 weeks before and throughout pregnancy and lactation. The pups received the same diets as their mothers both before and after weaning. The five dietary levels of vitamin A were 1200, 450, 150, 75 and 0 retinol equivalents/kg feed. Vitamin A intake did not affect reproduction outcome, nor were body and liver weights of the pups affected when they were 3·5 weeks old. Male pups with normal vitamin A status had higher plasma retinol levels than female pups. Vitamin A status of the offspring was affected from 3·5 weeks onwards. Body and liver weights were decreased in the male pups given the lowest dietary vitamin A levels from week 6·5 onwards but not in the female pups. Fe status was marginally affected. Haemoglobin levels were increased and total Fe-binding capacity was decreased in the groups given no dietary vitamin A at week 9·5. Splenic Fe was increased only in the male pups given the lowest levels of dietary vitamin A. However, as a whole, Fe status was only mildly affected and subject to considerable variation. We conclude that the two-generation rat model described here is not suitable for studying effects of vitamin A deficiency on Fe metabolism.