Nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses and malnutrition the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. Protein-energy malnutrition is associated with a significant impairment of cell-mediated immunity, phagocyte function, complement system, secretory immunoglobulin A antibody concentrations, and cytokine production. Deficiency of single nutrients also results in altered immune responses: this is observed even when the deficiency state is relatively mild. Of the micronutrients, zinc; selenium; iron; copper; vitamins A, C, E, and B-6; and folic acid have important influences on immune responses. Overnutrition and obesity also reduce immunity. Low-birth-weight infants have a prolonged impairment of cell-mediated immunity that can be partly restored by providing extra amounts of dietary zinc. In the elderly, impaired immunity can be enhanced by modest amounts of a combination of micronutrients. These findings have considerable practical and public health significance.