Vitamin E status was assessed in 36 infants with birth weights less than 1500 gm who were assigned randomly to receive one of three sources of nutrition: milk obtained from mothers of preterm infants (preterm milk), mature human milk, or infant formula. Infants in each dietary group were further assigned randomly to receive iron supplementation (2 mg/kg/day) beginning at 2 weeks or to receive no iron supplementation. All infants received a standard multivitamin, providing 4.1 mg alpha-tocopherol daily. Serum vitamin E concentrations at 6 weeks were significantly related both to type of milk (P less than 0.0001) and to iron supplementation (P less than 0.05). Infants fed preterm milk had significantly higher serum vitamin E levels than did infants fed mature human milk, and both groups had significantly higher levels than did those fed formula. Ratios of serum vitamin E/total lipid were also significantly greater for infants fed human milks than for those fed formula. The addition of iron to all three diets resulted in significantly lower serum vitamin E levels at 6 weeks (P less than 0.05); however, only in the group fed formula was there evidence of vitamin E deficiency. Preterm milk with routine multivitamin supplementation uniformly resulted in vitamin E sufficiency in VLBW infants whether or not iron was administered.