Fractional fluoride retention is important during the early years of life when considering the risk of development of dental fluorosis. This study aimed to measure fractional fluoride retention in young children. The objectives were to investigate the relationships between fractional fluoride retention and total daily fluoride intake, age, and body mass index (BMI). Twenty-nine healthy children, up to 4 yr of age, participated; 14 lived in a fluoridated area (0.64 ?g ml(-1) of fluoride in drinking water) and 15 lived in a non-fluoridated area (0.04 ?g ml(-1) of fluoride in drinking water). The total daily fluoride intake of each child was calculated from the daily dietary fluoride intake and toothpaste ingestion (if fluoride toothpaste was used). Total daily fluoride excretion was measured by collecting voided urine and faeces over a 24-h period, and fractional fluoride retention was calculated by dividing the amount of fluoride retained in the body (total daily fluoride intake minus total daily fluoride excretion) by the total daily fluoride intake. Nine children were excluded from data analysis because of suspected invalid samples. Mean (range) fractional fluoride retention for the remaining 20 children was 0.61 (0.06-0.98). There were no statistically significant correlations between fractional fluoride retention and either age or BMI. However, fractional fluoride retention was correlated with total daily fluoride intake: fractional fluoride retention = 1 – exp (-C × total daily fluoride intake), where C = 28.75 (95% CI = 19.75-37.75). The wide variation in fluoride retention in young children could have important implications when recommendations for fluoride use are being considered.