Intervention strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of nutrition-related diseases, including designing nutrition policies and nutrition education and assistance programs, require effective monitoring of what Americans are eating. Nutrient reference data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provide essential information to achieve these goals. Mean and median iron intakes were adequate in males of all race-ethnic groups but were generally low in females and young children. Mean and median calcium intakes were also higher in males than in females and were lower than recommendations in adolescents and in women of all ages. Mean sodium intakes for all age, sex, and race-ethnic groups exceeded the minimum requirements of healthy persons and were higher in non-Hispanic black children and adolescents than in non-Hispanic white and Mexican American children and adolescents. Mean fiber intakes also did not meet recommendations in most subgroups and were higher in Mexican American adults followed by non-Hispanic white adults and non-Hispanic black adults. Further research is planned to compare the food sources of energy and nutrients consumed by different population groups in NHANES III to similar results from earlier nation surveys. NHANES III, Phase 2 (1991-94) recalls were collected using the same dietary method as those collected in Phase 1 (1988-91), and other analyses will compare findings from both phases of NHANES III.