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The effects of nutritional adequacy to growth and oxygen transport were determined in 41 preschool native highland Bolivian children (3700 m). Children were selected to be free of anemia and growing normally in order to determine biological variation in erythropoietically essential nutrients and their relationship to arterial oxygenation. Significant numbers (37%) of children were iron deficient, but yet maintained hemoglobin concentrations in previously published acceptable ranges. Arterial oxygenation was identical to adult values despite significantly lower 2,3 DPG levels and was unrelated to Hb concentration. Multivariate analysis shows that within this normally growing sample, iron nutriture was significantly related to weight-for-height and suggests that extensive evaluations of nutritional status and Hb distribution curves are necessary to determine guidelines for anemia in young highland children.