The aim of this study was to determine whether women with low iron stores (plasma ferritin <or= 20 microg/L) receiving a daily iron supplement for 8 wks at a level commonly used to treat poor iron status develop increased lipid peroxidation as measured by ethane exhalation rates and plasma malondialdehyde. The women served as their own control as pre- and post-supplementation periods were compared. Twelve women participated in the study for a 70-day period and consumed daily iron supplements (98 mg of iron as ferrous sulfate) from day 14 to day 70. Baseline blood and expired air samples were obtained on days 1 and 14; measurements during supplementation were performed on days 56 and 70, that is at 6 and 8 weeks of supplementation. Iron status improved during the iron supplementation period; biochemical indicators of lipid peroxidation also increased. After 6 wks of iron supplementation, serum ferritin almost doubled and body iron more than doubled. Hemoglobin levels increased slightly and other indicators of iron status became normal. However, plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) and breath ethane exhalation rates (BEER) increased by more than 40% between baseline and 6 wks of supplementation; these increases correlated significantly with plasma iron and ferritin levels. MDA was positively correlated with BEER. BEER increased further after 8 wks of iron supplementation. The increased indicators of lipid peroxidation with duration of supplementation and as iron status improved suggest that providing daily nearly 100 mg iron may not be a totally innocuous regimen for correcting iron depletion in women.