The effect of iron depletion on blood lead levels was studied in a group of 558 schoolchildren aged 10 to 18 residing in two West Bank Arab villages with a high prevalence of excessive lead exposure and clinical lead poisoning. Thirty percent of the subjects studied had whole-blood lead levels greater than 30 micrograms/dl, and 45% had whole-blood zinc erythrocyte protoporphyrin greater than 50 micrograms/dl. The percentage of abnormal blood lead values in subjects with normal serum ferritin and transferrin saturation (31%) was similar to that in subjects with one (28%) or two (25%) abnormal iron parameters. Likewise, there was no correlation between serum ferritin and blood lead levels in individual patients (r = 0.059). Normal distribution plots and mean levels of blood lead (27.3 micrograms/dl) were identical in the iron-deficient and iron-replete groups. These findings indicate that iron depletion does not affect blood lead levels and suggest that in man, unlike in experimental animals, iron depletion may not have a significant effect on lead absorption.