Objective. To investigate the dietary intake and nutritional status of older coloured South Africans in the Cape Peninsula with regard to their micronutrient status. Design. Cross-sectional analytical study. Methods. A random sample of 200 non-institutionalised subjects in Cape Town aged ^ 65 years was drawn using a two-stage cluster design. Trained fieldworkers interviewed subjects to obtain demographic, dietary and lifestyle data, to draw fasting blood samples for biochemical, haematological, iron status and vitamin D (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)), serum vitamin B12 and red blood cell folate analyses. Nutrient intake was assessed with a validated quantified food frequency questionnaire. Results. The micronutrient density of the diet of the majority of the subjects was inadequate, particularly in respect of calcium, zinc and vitamin D intakes. Seventeen per cent of the subjects had serum 25(OH)D levels in the deficient range for the elderly (< 10 ng/ml). Fourteen per cent of subjects were anaemic, classified on the basis of suboptimal haemoglobin concentrations; however, only one-third (31 %) of those with anaemia had haemopoietic nutrient deficiencies, associated with either iron (63%) folate (38%) or vitamin BI2 (25%) deficiency. A low prevalence of either folate or vitamin B12 deficiency was found. Raised serum ferritin concentrations (> 300 ug/l) were found in 6.4% of subjects and were probably caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Conclusions. The findings indicate a need for health promotion activities that will encourage an increased consumption of vegetables, fruit (especially those rich in vitamin C), wholegrain cereals, low-fat dairy products, fish, eggs, lean meat and liver in this age group to prevent the nutrient deficiency disorders identified in the present study.