The effect of undernutrition and refeeding on superoxide production by polymorphonuclear cells (PMN) was studied in 11 girls suffering from anorexia nervosa (AN) and 17 age-matched, normal, healthy, control subjects. Superoxide anion production by PMNs from undernourished AN patients was comparable to normal, while a significant decrease in this function was observed during the initial period of refeeding. After a more extended period of refeeding, superoxide production by PMNs from AN patients increased and gradually returned toward normal values. Superoxide production correlated with length of the refeeding period (RF), weight as a percentage of ideal weight for height ( W H%), and rate of weight gain (WG). These results imply that a variety of physiological parameters, including susceptibility to infection, may be altered by refeeding undernourished patients.