Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) cv Whitney was tested for iron bioavailabilty using an in vitro human intestinal cell culture ferritin bioassay technique previously developed. Spinach was cultured in a growth chamber for 33 days, harvested, and freeze-dried. Total iron in the samples was an average of 71 micrograms/g dry weight. Spinach was digested in vitro (pepsin and 0.1 M HCl followed by pancreatin and 0.1 M NaHCO3) with and without the addition of supplemental ascorbic acid. Caco-2 cell cultures were used to determine iron bioavailability from the spinach mixtures. Production of the iron-binding protein ferritin in the Caco-2 cells showed the supplemental ascorbic acid doubled bioavailability of iron from spinach. The data show fresh spinach is a poor source of iron, and emphasize the importance of evaluation of whole meals rather than single food items. The data support the usefulness of the in vitro/Caco-2 cell ferritin bioassay model for prescreening of space flight diets for bioavailable iron.