In a prospective study, the nutritional status was evaluated in 46 consecutive admissions to a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, using anthropometric parameters. About 65% of the patients presented malnutrition on admission, with predominance of the chronic form. The mortality rate was greater in the malnourished (20 versus 12.5%) and chronic malnutrition was associated with a higher incidence of infection (42%). There was a fall in channel of percentile for weight-for-height in 36% of the patients evaluated at the final follow up. These results suggest that a significant number of patients are at nutritional risk at the time of hospital admission, and there is an association between nutritional status and hospital course. The anthropometric nutritional evaluation is a simple an reproducible method, and a valuable parameter for an objective nutritional assessment of the critically ill child. Therefore, it should be performed on admission and follow up of hospitalized children.