Muscle electrolyte composition has been studied in 10 infants with marasmus and eight children with kwashiorkor. The presence of altered muscle salt and water concentrations was confined in the latter nutritional syndrome. The marasmic infant, with equivalent or more severe nutritional wasting than the child with kwashiorkor, maintained a more normal muscle electrolyte concentration as indicated by a number of criteria. The pathophysiology of the altered muscle composition in kwashiorkor remains unclear; however, it appears to be more specific than due just to a depletion of available fat and muscle stores. Although possible endocrine mechanisms can be postulated to explain the change in muscle chemistry, the existing evidence is inadequate. Clearly, continuing research is warranted.