The purpose of this study was to examine the consequences associated with food insecurity for the nutritional and health status of the elderly in the United STATES: The data analyzed were from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) and the Nutrition Survey of the Elderly in New York State (1994). Multiple logistic and linear regression analyses were used to assess the extent to which food-insecure elderly were likely to have lower nutrient intake, skinfold thickness, self-reported health status and higher nutritional risk. Regardless of food insecurity status, older people consumed less than the recommended dietary allowance for eight nutrients. Food-insecure elderly persons had significantly lower intakes of energy, protein, carbohydrate, saturated fat, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B-6 and B-12, magnesium, iron and zinc, as well as lower skinfold thickness. In addition, food-insecure elderly persons were 2.33 (95% confidence interval: 1.73-3.14) times more likely to report fair/poor health status and had higher nutritional risk. These results indicate that food-insecure elderly persons have poorer dietary intake, nutritional status and health status than do food-secure elderly persons. It is necessary to ensure the nutritional well-being of all elderly persons who are at nutritional and health risk, including those who are food insecure and have even poorer nutritional and health status than those who are food secure.