Objectives. To estimate the disease burden attributable to being underweight as an indicator of undernutrition in children under 5 years of age and in pregnant women for the year 2000. Design. World Health Organization comparative risk assessment (CRA) methodology was followed. The 1999 National Food Consumption Survey prevalence of underweight classified in three low weight-for-age categories was compared with standard growth charts to estimate population-attributable fractions for mortality and morbidity outcomes, based on increased risk for each category and applied to revised burden of disease estimates for South Africa in 2000. Maternal underweight, leading to an increased risk of intra-uterine growth retardation and further risk of low birth weight (LBW), was also assessed using the approach adopted by the global assessment. Monte Carlo simulation-modelling techniques were used for the uncertainty analysis.