Malignant malnutrition is a severe and wide-spread disorder; when it does not kill, it is a serious illness requiring a long and costly stay in hospital. A shortage of first-class protein plays a significant part in the etiology. It is possible that the syndrome could be modified or prevented by making available a sufficient quantity of first-class protein (chiefly milk and dairy products) in the early years of childhood, particularly after weaning. Socio-economic conditions are responsible for the fact that first-class animal proteins are too expensive to be available in sufficient quantity in this crucial period of childhood. Attention is drawn to reports showing the value of plant proteins, which are far cheaper than animal proteins, in nutritional work with children. It is suggested that the wide-spread use of plant proteins in early childhood might be an important factor in preventing or reducing the morbidity of malignant malnutrition.