Iron is an essential element for virtually all living organisms, but its reactivity also makes it potentially harmful. Iron accumulates with aging, and is associated with many age-related diseases; it also shortens the lifespans of several model organisms. Blocking iron absorption through drugs or natural products extends lifespan. Many life-extending interventions, such as rapamycin, calorie restriction, and old plasma dilution can be explained by the effects they have on iron absorption, excretion, and metabolism. Control of body iron stores so that they remain in a low normal range may be an important, lifespan- and healthspan-extending intervention.