Results from experiments in this laboratory using 59Fe suggest that bovine lactoferrin (Lf) has no effect on iron absorption in rats. A study was therefore carried out in newborn infants to measure the effects of Lf on iron retention. Bovine Lf was labeled with the stable isotope 58Fe and fed to 7-day-old infants in a standard milk formula. Iron retention was estimated by measuring the unabsorbed 58Fe excreted in the feces during the following 3 days using neutron activation analysis. The results were compared with those obtained from a group of infants fed a similar level of iron as ferric chloride, labeled with 58Fe, together with 30 mg ascorbic acid. There was a very wide variation in percent iron retention amongst the infants but no overall difference between the Lf and ferric chloride groups. This confirms the previous findings in rats that Lf does not influence the availability of nonheme iron.