Although disorders of iron metabolism are prevalent, iron transport remains poorly understood. To address this problem, we undertook a positional cloning strategy to identify the causative mutation in mice with microcytic anaemia (mk). Homozygous mk/mk mice have microcytic, hypochromic anaemia due to severe defects in intestinal iron absorption and erythroid iron utilization. We report the identification of a strong candidate gene for mk, and suggest that the phenotype is a consequence of a missense mutation in Nramp2 (ref. 5), a previously identified gene of unknown function. Nramp2 is homologous to Nramp1, a gene activa in host defense. If Nramp2 is mk, as the cumulative evidence suggests, our findings have broad implications for the understanding of iron transport and resistance to intracellular pathogens.