Objective Although goitre and cretinism were brought under control in Kyrgyzstan during the 1960s by centrally directed iodized salt supplies, iodine-deficiency disorders (IDD) had made a comeback when the USSR broke up in 1991. Upon independence, Kyrgyzstan started developing its own salt processing industry and by 2001 the Government enacted a law on IDD elimination, mandating universal salt iodization (USI) at 25–55 mg/kg. The present study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the USI strategy on the iodine consumption, iodine status and burden of IDD in the population of Kyrgyzstan.\n\nDesign A national, population-representative survey during autumn 2007 collected household salt and urine samples of school-age children and pregnant women for quantitative iodine measurements. Thyroid volume was measured by ultrasound.\n\nResults The median iodine content in household salt was 11·2 mg/kg; 97·9 % of salt samples were iodized, but only 39·5 % had =15 mg iodine/kg. The median urinary iodine concentration (UIC) of 114 µg/l in children did not differ from the UIC of 111 µg/l in pregnant women. Thyroid volume in pregnant women increased with the duration of pregnancy. Strong relationships existed between salt iodine levels and the UIC values in children and women.\n\nConclusions The iodine nutrition status of the Kyrgyz population is highly responsive to household salt iodization. Although the results in children suggest adequate iodine nutrition, the iodine consumption among pregnant women did not assure their dietary requirements. In-depth analysis of the survey data suggest that excess iodine intake is not likely to become a public health concern in Kyrgyzstan when the salt supply meets agreed standards.