Stunting is one of the most widespread forms of undernutrition found in Brazilian children. Some studies have revealed an association between this condition and overweight, whereas others report an association with wasting. The objective of this work was to test the hypothesis that stunted children who live in the semiarid region of Alagoas (Brazil), one of the poorest areas of the country, tend to exhibit wasting and not overweight. The study followed a transversal design that involved a probability sample (n = 480 children <5 years of age). Anthropometric indexes were compared with the National Center for Health Statistics reference curves. A height-for-age deficit (Z < -2) was found in 9.6% of the children, whereas weight-for-height (WH) deficit was observed in only 0.6% of them. To test the hypothesis presented, the children were categorized according to quartiles (Q) of height-for-age. Shorter children (first Q; n = 121) were compared with the tallest ones (fourth Q; n = 121), taking into account variables of interest. The median WH value for the shorter children group (Z = -0.03) was significantly (P < 0.001) lower than that for children included in the group of taller children (Z = 0.62). The prevalence of risk of wasting (WH Z < -1) in the first Q was higher than that observed in the fourth Q (odds ratio, 3.03, 95% confidence interval, 1.2-8.3). Within the group of children studied, stunting was associated with WH deficit.