Early deficits in nutritional status that might require specific treatment and early response to nutritional therapy were studied longitudinally in 25 infants with cystic fibrosis (CF) diagnosed by neonatal screening, using anthropometric and research body composition methodology, and evaluation of pancreatic function. At the time of confirmed diagnosis (mean 5.4 weeks), body mass, length, total body fat (TBF), and total body potassium (TBK) were all significantly reduced. Following diagnosis and commencement of therapy there was a normalization of weight, length, and TBK by 6-12 months of age, indicating catch-up growth. But in some individuals the response was incomplete, and as a group, mean total body fat remained significantly lower than normal at 1 year of age. Seven of 25 (28%) were pancreatic sufficient at diagnosis, and all but one had evidence of declining pancreatic function requiring the institution of pancreatic enzyme therapy during the next 1-9 months. The median age of commencement of enzyme therapy was 10 weeks (range 5 weeks to 11 months). These longitudinal assessments emphasize the dynamic changes occurring in absorptive function, body composition, and nutritional status following neonatal diagnosis of cystic fibrosis and may reflect previously described abnormalities of energy metabolism in this age group. Abnormal body composition is evident in most CF infants following diagnosis by neonatal screening but pancreatic damage may still be evolving. We suggest that early active nutritional therapy and surveillance for changes in pancreatic function are warranted in CF infants diagnosed by neonatal screening.