Sixty severely malnourished children aged between 5 and 60 months were studied during nutritional rehabilitation. They all received a rice-based diet ad libitum plus vitamins and iron supplementation. Thirty children received zinc supplements (10 mg/kg/d for those weighing less than 6 kg and 50 mg daily for those over 6 kg) on a random basis. Zinc was started from the 15th hospital day when they were free of infection and continued for a period of 3 weeks. Both groups had a mean energy intake of 200 kcal/kg/d, but the majority of the supplemented children had a better rate of weight gain: 66 per cent of the supplemented compared with 33 per cent of the controls gained more than 10 g/kg body weight/d. Moreover, 76 per cent of the supplemented children compared with 23 per cent of the controls were over 90 per cent of Harvard median weight for height on discharge. It appears from this study that zinc supplementation promotes growth and enhances the rate of clinical recovery from severe PEM.