Iron deficiency anaemia is frequently observed in male adults and postmenopausal women due to chronic occult bleeding, usually from the gastrointestinal tract. Practically, as endoscopical investigation of the gastrointestinal system is an invasive procedure, iron replacement treatment was generally started without investigation of the underlying aetiology even in first-line health institutions. This study evaluates the role of endoscopy in the investigation of the aetiology of anaemia in 95 patients (51 males, 44 females), aged 64.9 +/- 12.5 years (range 50-90 years). All patients having iron deficiency anaemia were investigated by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and colonoscopy. Upper and lower gastrointestinal pathologies were seen in 10 (10.6%) and 55 (57.8%) patients, respectively. However, no gastrointestinal lesion was found in 30 (31.6%) patients with iron deficiency anaemia. Out of the 95 patients, 16 (16.9%) had erosive gastritis, 15 (15.8%) duodenal ulcer, 8 (8.4%) gastric ulcer, 7 (7.3%) gastric tumours, 7 (7.3%) oesophagitis, 5 (5.4%) colon tumours, 3 (3.2%) haemorrhoids, 2 (2.1%) non-tropical sprue, I (1%) colonic polyp, and I (1%) colitis. In the majority of elderly patients with iron deficiency anaemia, upper gastrointestinal system disease was found. In 12 (12.7%) patients in the study group, malignancies were detected. In elderly patients with iron deficiency anaemia, the aetiology should be highlighted before giving iron supplementation.