We evaluated selenium (Se) status of 44 hospitalized patients with protein-energy malnutrition. The patients were assigned to "normal" or "low" Se groups-1 and 2, respectively-based on whether the plasma Se level exceeded or was below the value of the mean-2SD of healthy Georgians'. Plasma and erythrocyte Se levels correlated significantly (r = .52, P less than .01). Erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activity was highly correlated with plasma Se (r = .68) in group 2; there was no significant correlation between these parameters in group 1. In group 2 the mean plasma prealbumin level was significantly lower, and the mean corpuscular volume and serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase level were significantly higher compared to group 1. Other nutritional parameters did not correlate with Se status. Concomitant deficiencies of other nutrients were common in both patient groups. Se levels may relate to protein status, and abnormal hematologic and hepatic parameters may reflect low Se status and/or protein-energy malnutrition. Low Se status is common in malnourished patients from a low Se area, and Se supplementation should be included in their nutritional-repletion regimens.