1. The relative efficacy of oral and parenteral iron administration in the prophylaxis and treatment of Fe-deficiency anaemia of pregnancy has been studied.
2. Intravenous administration of Fe by total dose infusion of Fe dextran was not superior to oral Fe 120 mg/d, 6 d/week for 10–12 weeks.
3. Intramuscular Fe dextran, 100 mg twice per week for 10–12 weeks, produced a significantly greater rise in mean haemoglobin concentration than oral Fe therapy.
4. The superiority of intramuscular Fe as compared with intravenous Fe is probably related to the different handling of the Fe dextran by the reticulo-endothelial system.
5. In spite of the better response to intramuscular Fe dextran, it is not recommended for public health practice because of the risks associated with its use and the much higher cost of the preparation and its delivery.