Review of studies examining the interaction between malnutrition and diarrheal infection with reference to several factors: appetite recovery after diarrhea, comparison of nutrient absorption by etiology, and feeding program during diarrhea. Diarrhea has been found to have the greatest impact on food intake in children--a 40% reduction compared to normal children. On the question of absorption efficiency of ingested food, it was suggested that transit time through the gut was not by itself a reliable indicator of malabsorption. Transient depression of enzymatic activity (with the exception of lactase) as a result of diarrheal infection was not found to greatly affect digestion. Rather, it was found that illness was of shorter duration in fed as compared to nonfed children. Food intake reduction was found to vary according to etiology, as did absorption of nutrients during both the acute and recovery stages. In general carbohydrate absorption was least affected during the acute stage and across all conditions. In diarrhea due to ETEC, absorption of all nutrients was better in the acute stage; however, there was a marked increase in absorption between recovery stage 1 and recovery stage 2 (2 and 8 weeks after recovery, respectively). During the acute stage fat and caloric absorption was significantly less in rotavirus and shigella patients as compared to those suffering from ETEC. Rotavirus infection resulted in a longer period of malabsorption. In shigella, improvements in absorption of all nutrients improved considerably by recovery stage 1. It was concluded that feeding of children is to be encouraged because substantial absorption takes place even during the acute stages of diarrhea.