Estimation of whole-grain (WG) food intake in epidemiological and nutritional studies is normally based on general diet FFQ, which are not designed to specifically capture WG intake. To estimate WG cereal intake, we developed a forty-three-item FFQ focused on cereal product intake over the past month. We validated this questionnaire against a 3-d-weighed food record (3DWFR) in thirty-one subjects living in the French-speaking part of Switzerland (nineteen female and twelve male). Subjects completed the FFQ on day 1 (FFQ1), the 3DWFR between days 2 and 13 and the FFQ again on day 14 (FFQ2). The subjects provided a fasting blood sample within 1 week of FFQ2. Total cereal intake, total WG intake, intake of individual cereals, intake of different groups of cereal products and alkylresorcinol (AR) intake were calculated from both FFQ and the 3DWFR. Plasma AR, possible biomarkers for WG wheat and rye intake were also analysed. The total WG intake for the 3DWFR, FFQ1, FFQ2 was 26 (sd 22), 28 (sd 25) and 21 (sd 16) g/d, respectively. Mean plasma AR concentration was 55·8 (sd 26·8) nmol/l. FFQ1, FFQ2 and plasma AR were correlated with the 3DWFR (r 0·72, 0·81 and 0·57, respectively). Adjustment for age, sex, BMI and total energy intake did not affect the results. This FFQ appears to give a rapid and adequate estimate of WG cereal intake in free-living subjects.