The Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) has recently been designed and validated to provide a single, rapid assessment of nutritional status in elderly patients in outpatient clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. It has been translated into several languages and validated in many clinics around the world. The MNA test is composed of simple measurements and brief questions that can be completed in about 10 min. Discriminant analysis was used to compare the findings of the MNA with the nutritional status determined by physicians, using the standard extensive nutritional assessment including complete anthropometric, clinical biochemistry, and dietary parameters. The sum of the MNA score distinguishes between elderly patients with: 1) adequate nutritional status, MNA > or = 24; 2) protein-calorie malnutrition, MNA < 17; 3) at risk of malnutrition, MNA between 17 and 23.5. With this scoring, sensitivity was found to be 96%, specificity 98%, and predictive value 97%. The MNA scale was also found to be predictive of mortality and hospital cost. Most important it is possible to identify people at risk for malnutrition, scores between 17 and 23.5, before severe changes in weight or albumin levels occur. These individuals are more likely to have a decrease in caloric intake that can be easily corrected by nutritional intervention.