To assess the nutritional status of an elderly nursing home population of South Florida, forty-seven persons with ages ranging from 65 to 96 years were studied. Complete clinical examination and anthropometric measures were performed, along with blood cell count, biochemical blood parameters and assessment of water-soluble vitamins levels. The most common clinical finding were edentulous (67%), general pallor (44%), hyperpigmentation (33%), dry skin (26%) and arcus corneitis (26%). Thirty-five percent of the studied population had cholesterol levels greater than 220 mg/dl. Triglyceride levels were also significantly elevated in a considerable subset of our subjects, with 30% having levels above threshold value of 150 mg/dl. Small proportions of subjects showed low levels of albumin (6%), total protein (28%), ascorbic acid (2%), and thiamin (9%). Forty-five percent of males were pyridoxine deficient, while 63% of the females presented such deficiency. This study underscores the need to define, with greater precision, the nutritional status of aged populations as well as improve our inadequate standards associated with the "normal" aging process. Nutritional intervention--only possible when appropriate standards are defined--can potentially serve not only to prevent the occurrence of significant morbidity and mortality, but can also be employed to enhance quality of life in the elderly individuals.