Chronic protein-energy malnutrition during the period of growth and development causes permanent disturbances of salivary gland function and tooth structure. Moderate protein-energy deficiency also causes impaired saliva secretion rate and composition in the adult rat. These impairments have been shown to coincide with an increased incidence of dental caries. In the present investigation we studied the effect of chronic malnutrition on saliva secretion rate and susceptibility to dental caries in Indian children. It was found that chronic malnutrition reduced the secretion rate of stimulated saliva, but not that of unstimulated saliva. The salivary buffer capacity was continuously decreased as the secretion rate decreased with the level of malnutrition in the Indian children. The malnourished children developed increased caries. Thus, it could be concluded that chronic malnutrition in growing children enhances the cariogenic potential stemming from fermentable carbohydrates.