On the basis of observations that endemic fluorosis occurs more often in malnourished populations, a series of studies tested the hypothesis that deficient dietary intake of calcium, protein or energy affects fluoride metabolism so that the margin of safe fluoride exposure may be reduced. The objective of the investigation was to determine whether changes in fluoride metabolism in nutritionally deficient rats resulted in manifestation of any extraskeletal toxic fluoride effects not observed in healthy animals. This investigation included two studies, one that monitored the effect of calcium deficiency on the effects of chronic fluoride exposure, and a second study that observed fluoride effects in rats that were deficient either in protein or in energy and total nutrient intake. Control and experimental rats received drinking water containing 0, 0.26 (5), 0.79 (15) or 2.63 (50) mmol fluoride/L (mg/L) for 16 or 48 wk. Control rats were fed optimal diets and experimental rats were fed diets deficient in calcium (Study 1) or protein (Study 2). An additional group of experimental rats (Study 2) was provided with a restricted amount of diet; thus these rats were deficient in energy and total nutrient intake. The intake, excretion and retention of fluoride were monitored; after the rats were killed, tissue fluoride levels and biochemical markers of tissue function were analyzed. Bone marrow cells were harvested from some of the rats, after 48 wk of treatment, for determining the frequency of sister chromatid exchange, a marker of genetic damage. Although there were significant differences among fluoride treatment groups in fluoride excretion and retention that resulted in significantly greater fluoride levels in tissues of the experimental rats, we were unable to detect any harmful, extraskeletal biochemical, physiologic or genetic effects of fluoride in the nutritionally deficient rats.