We evaluated the nutritional status of 173 consecutive children with newly diagnosed leukemia compared with that of 307 children with benign acute diseases. Nutritional status was assessed by anthropometric measurements including weight, height, weight for height, midarm circumference (MAC) and triceps skin-fold (TSF), and by biochemical indices, in particular prealbumin (TBPA) and retinol-binding protein (RBP). On admission, no significant differences were found between groups in weight, height, weight for height, MAC, and TSF values. TBPA and RBP, lower than normal in most cases, were not significantly different in the two groups. Furthermore, no differences were observed when children with high-risk leukemia were compared with those at standard risk. In conclusion, children with newly diagnosed leukemia do not seem to present significant nutritional depletion, and their nutritional status is similar to that of children admitted for other nonmalignant acute diseases. However, nutritional indices should be monitored in children with high-risk leukemia because treatment intensity is likely to result in a malnutritional status later, which might be prevented by early adequate nutritional support.