Information on phyto-oestrogen intake in various populations has been scanty until now, primarily because data on the content of these compounds in foods were lacking. We report here on expansion of the Finnish National Food Composition Database (Fineli®) with values for the plant lignans matairesinol and secoisolariciresinol and the isoflavones daidzein and genistein. The values, expressed as aglycones, were based on food analyses (mainly GC–MS) or imputed from analytical data for 180 foods for lignans and 160 foods for isoflavones; additionally, over 1000 values were derived from the recipe database of Fineli. Average intake of these phyto-oestrogens was calculated using food consumption data of the National Dietary Survey FINDIET 1997, which was carried out in a random sample of the adult population in five areas in Finland. The dietary data were collected by 24 h recall (n=2862). The mean lignan intake was 434 (standard deviation (SD) 1575) μg/d and the mean isoflavone intake was 788 (SD 673) μg/d. Women had a higher lignan density (μg lignans/MJ) in their diet than men (P<0·05). Men had a higher mean daily isoflavone intake, 902 (SD 368) μg, than women, 668 (SD 963) μg (P<0·05). The sources of lignans were many: seeds, cereals, fruit, berries and vegetables. The main sources of isoflavones appeared to be processed meat products/sausages containing soya as an ingredient, and legumes as such. The average intake of lignans and isoflavones in Finland seems to be low, but intake varies throughout the population.