Abstract The methodology of precise isotope abundance determinations of erythrocyte iron by fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry and signal averaging is established. For the determination of the 54Fe/ 56Fe ratio a relative precision of 0.5% and an absolute precision of 0.03% is achieved. After oral loading with 54Fe-enriched samples in the range between 5 and 25 mg per subject, the 14-day erythrocyte incorporation of 54Fe has been determined in five individuals, namely, two adults, two children, and one infant. In the two adults, the oral dose of 54Fe was simultaneously labeled with a trace amount of carrier-free 59Fe. In these double-isotope loading tests, a good agreement was observed between the absorption data determined on the basis of whole body retention of 59Fe and on the basis of the 54Fe erythrocyte incorporation. The stable isotope methodology applied allows measurement of the iron absorption using highly enriched 54Fe at a dose of 25 mg for an adult or at a dose of 5 mg for infants of about 1 year of age.