The standard food for our volunteers, prepared in the central kitchen of the University Hospital of Tubingen, consisted of breakfast, warm lunch and cold supper and contained, on average, approximately 230 micrograms of iodine/day. It is generally assumed that an equilibrium is established between iodine intake from food and urinary iodine excretion. Hence, the amount of iodine excreted with the urine within 24 h may reflect the daily ingestion of iodine. The fecal iodine losses are considered negligible. The alimentary iodine supply from food of our clinic would meet the WHO recommendations of > 150 micrograms/day to prevent iodine-deficiency goiters. In 27 healthy volunteers the daily uptake of iodine was determined and the urinary excretion of iodine within 24 h was measured. Unexpectedly, only 16% to 18% of the alimentary iodine were excreted with the urine. Hence, the utilization of iodine from the food appears to be limited and therefore cannot prevent goiters in goiter areas. In addition, it was found that the correlation between urinary excretion of iodine and urinary excretion of creatinine is not a reliable parameter for the real daily excretion of iodine and iodine balance.