OBJECTIVE To find out the magnitude and epidemiological determinants of malnutrition among 0-6 y tribal children. METHODS A community based cross sectional study was done in the villages of Melghat in central India. The information of 540 children in the age group 0-6 y was collected. The newly developed WHO growth standards were used to calculate conventional indices of malnutrition (underweight, stunting and wasting) and composite index of anthropometric failure (CIAF). Univariate and multiple logistic regression analysis were used to find out the correlates of malnutrition. RESULTS The prevalence of malnutrition among these tribal children in terms of underweight, stunting, and wasting were 60.9 %, 66.4 % and 18.8 % respectively. Malnutrition in terms of composite index of anthropometric failure (CIAF) was 76.3 %. The important correlates of malnutrition that emerged out of this study were the age of child, age of mother less than 20 y at her first pregnancy, practice of not feeding colostrum, calorie deficit diet, anemia and morbidities like diarrhea and acute respiratory illnesses. CONCLUSIONS The prevalence of malnutrition was high in tribal children. The health care delivery at village level should be strengthened for early diagnosis and prompt treatment of anemia and other morbidities in children. The strategies are needed to delay the child bearing age in this community and improve breast feeding practices.