Disorders resulting from severe iodine deficiency affect more than 400 million people in Asia alone. These disorders include stillbirths, abortions, and congenital anomalies; endemic cretinism, characterised most commonly by mental deficiency, deaf mutism, and spastic diplegia and lesser degrees of neurological defect related to fetal iodine deficiency; and impaired mental function in children and adults with goitre associated with subnormal concentrations of circulating thyroxine. Use of the term iodine deficiency disorders, instead of "goitre", would help to bridge the serious gap between knowledge and its application. Iodised salt and iodised oil (by injection or by mouth) are suitable for the correction of iodine deficiency on a mass scale. A single dose of iodised oil can correct severe iodine deficiency for 3-5 years. Iodised oil offers a satisfactory immediate measure for primary care services until an iodised salt programme can be implemented. The complete eradication of iodine deficiency is therefore feasible within 5-10 years.