6,666 children under 3 years of age were selected from 231 villages in 25 townships of the Sichuan Province using a stratified random sampling design. The subjects consisted of 3,356 boys (50.3%) and 3,310 girls (49.7%); 2,510 from plain areas (37.8%),1,857 from hill areas (27.9%), and 2,299 from mountain areas (34.4%). All the children in this study had four anthropometric variables measured: body weight, length, head circumference (HC), upper-arm circumference (UAC). Three anthropometric indicators were used to measure the prevalence of malnutrition: weight-for-age (underweight), length-for-age (stunting) and weight-for-length (wasting). The prevalence of malnutrition and Z scores were calculated for male and female, respectively, by age to compare the Chinese rural children with the Chinese standard (1985) and NCHS Standard. The prevalence of moderate plus severe underweight, stunting and wasting were 20.8%,40.7% and 1.78% in boys and 19.5%, 38.3% and 2.26% in girls. The prevalence of malnutrition also varied with age. The group with the highest prevalence of malnutrition was in the first year of life, with weaning time proving to be a critical period influencing child growth and development. Z score indicated that the growth and development of Chinese rural children was behind the Chinese Urban and NCHS populations, especially after 6 months of age. Furthermore, the mean head circumference and upper arm circumference was lower in mildly malnourished children in each age gr 1000 oup than in normal children, and much lower still in moderately and severely malnourished children. The influences of malnutrition were also manifested on bone and muscle development.