OBJECTIVE: To investigate the iron status, its relationship with C-reactive protein and the prognostic value of both in canine leishmaniasis. METHOD: Eighty-six dogs with leishmaniasis and two control groups (healthy dogs and dogs with diseases other than leishmaniasis) were selected. Iron status indicators and C-reactive protein were compared between the three groups. Correlations between C-reactive protein and iron, ferritin and total iron-binding capacity were evaluated in dogs with leishmaniasis. Iron, total iron-binding capacity and ferritin were compared between dogs stratified according to similar C-reactive protein concentrations. The mortality rate at 30 days post-diagnosis was compared between groups. Iron status indicators and C-reactive protein were compared between survivors and non-survivors. RESULTS: Dogs with leishmaniasis had lower iron and total iron-binding capacity and higher ferritin and C-reactive protein. There was a significant but low correlation of C-reactive protein with iron, ferritin and total iron-binding capacity. Dogs with leishmaniasis had decreased iron and total iron-binding capacity and increased ferritin compared to other ill patients with similar C-reactive protein concentrations. Mortality was not significantly different between groups but non-survivor dogs with leishmaniasis had higher C-reactive protein and lower total iron-binding capacity. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Inflammation contributes to the iron status alterations found in canine leishmaniasis but other mechanisms are likely involved. Low total iron-binding capacity and increased C-reactive protein are risk factors for outcome in canine leishmaniasis. © 2013 British Small Animal Veterinary Association.