Several major factors may influence the micronutrient requirements of the patient with cancer. These factors include the metabolic state of the malignancy and its effects on host metabolism, the catabolic effects of antineoplastic therapy, and other physiologic stresses commonly associated with the treatment of cancer, i.e., surgery, fever and infection. Although the nutritional importance of vitamins, minerals and trace elements is recognized, the optimal daily dose that will preserve lean body mass without enhancing tumor growth, is not known. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), where established, are based on populations with nonmalignant diseases. However, supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and certain trace elements is recommended for the cancer patient who requires prolonged parenteral support, since clinically relevant deficiency states have been described. The effect of malignancy on the metabolism of several of these micronutrients (iron, ascorbic acid, alpha tocopherol, selenium, zinc, copper) is discussed.