AbstractThis article investigates a shift in the justifying ideas in Norwegian public health and immigrant policies. Between 1970 and 2009, equality was gradually supplanted with equivalence as the main principle evoked in policy formulation. Potentially, this opened for more differentiated public health policies for immigrants and the indigenous Sámi. The specific needs of minorities were acknowledged, and the need for linguistic and cultural competence in health services was emphasized. However, only a few specific measures were introduced to meet the needs and challenges of ethnic minorities, and the concrete measures implemented largely mirrored the services aimed at the majority.