59 elderly patients (mean age 82) with femoral neck fractures were randomised into two groups. 27 patients received daily an oral nutrition supplement (250 ml, 20 g protein, 254 kcal) for a mean of 32 days; 32 patients acted as controls. On admission most patients had nutritional deficiencies. Despite being offered adequate quantities, nutritional requirements were not met during the hospital stay. Clinical outcome was significantly better in the supplemented group (56% favourable course vs 13% in controls) during the stay in the convalescent hospital. The rates of complications and deaths were also significantly lower in supplemented patients (44% vs 87%). 6 months after the fracture the rates of complications and mortality were significantly lower in supplemented patients (40% vs 74%). The median duration of hospital stay was significantly shorter in the supplemented group (24 vs 40 days). Thus the clinical outcome of elderly patients with femoral neck fracture can be improved by once daily dietary oral supplementation.