Changes in haemoglobin (Hb), work performance, heart rate and postexercise blood lactate were studied in iron deficient, anaemic subjects for 16 d following total dosage infusion of iron dextran, i.v. (30-50 ml). Six adult men and 14 women were subjects with initial Hb levels of 6.6 +/- 0.6 g/dl (mean +/- SEM) for the iron treatment group (n=10) and 8.0 +/- 0.7 for the placebo group (saline infusion, n=10). Serum levels were 0.51 +/- 0.15 and 0.67 +/- 0.12 mg/l for the two groups, respectively. Haemoglobin and maximal work time increased significantly within 4 d after iron treatment and continued to increase up to 16 d. No changes were found in the placebo subjects. Heart rates at a given exercise intensity were lower in the iron treatment group than in control subjects who had the same Hb levels but had not been treated with iron. Post-exercise venous blood lactate was similar on succeeding days after iron treatment even though the subjects reached higher work loads. These results demonstrate the treatment of iron deficient, anaemic subjects with iron dextran results in improved work capacity within 4 d and a lower heart rate at a given work load after treatment which cannot be accounted for totally by the elevation of Hb concentration.