The general acceptance of NaFe3+ EDTA for food Fe fortification has been partly restricted by concern over the influence of EDTA on the metabolism of other nutritionally important trace elements and minerals. We have investigated the influence of NaFe3+ EDTA, and of increasing dietary levels of Na2EDTA, on Zn, Cu and Ca metabolism in rats fed on Zn-sufficient and Zn-deficient soya-bean-isolate-based diets. With the Zn-deficient diets, changing the dietary Fe compound from FeSO4 to NaFe3+-EDTA significantly (P > 0.05) increased mean apparent Zn absorption from 50–2 to 67.4% urinary Zn excretion from 2.0 to 4.0% of intake, and Zn retention from 48.2 to 63.4%. Increasing the dietary EDTA level to 1000 mg/kg further increased Zn absorption to 78.1 %, urinary Zn excretion to 15.6% of intake and Zn retention to 62.5%. Increased Zn retention was accompanied by a significant increase in weight gain indicating that the extra Zn was available for normal metabolic processes. With rats fed on the Zn-sufficient diet, NaFe3+ EDTA and Na2EDTA similarly increased the absorption, urinary excretion and retention of Zn but to a lesser extent. NaFe3+ EDTA, however, had no influence on the absorption, urinary excretion and retention of Cu and Ca, and additional Na2 EDTA caused only minor increases in Cu absorption and retention and in the urinary excretion of Ca. We conclude that using NaFe3+ EDTA as a food fortificant would have no detrimental effect on the metabolism of Zn, Cu and Ca and, in some situations, could improve Zn absorption and retention from low-bioavailability diets.