Food insecurity is affecting an increasing number of urban poor in the developing world. Yet seasonal characteristics of food intakes have rarely been studied in West African cities. The objective of the present study was to assess the seasonality of the dietary dimension of household food security in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). In 2007, two sets of data were collected during the lean and post-harvest seasons, respectively, on a representative sample of 1056 households. At each season, two non-consecutive 24 h recalls were performed at the household level. Food prices were also recorded. Household food security was assessed by the household's mean adequacy ratio (MAR) for energy and eleven micronutrients. Changes in the MAR according to the season were analysed by mixed multivariate linear regression. Results showed that intakes of energy and of ten micronutrients were significantly lower during the lean season than during the post-harvest season, leading to a lower MAR in the lean season (49·61 v. 53·57, P < 0·0001). This was related to less frequent consumption and consumption of smaller amounts of vegetables and of foods prepared at home. Food security relied heavily on food expenses (P < 0·0001) and on the price of meat/fish (P = 0·026). Households with economically dependent adults (P = 0·021) and larger households (P < 0·0001) were the most vulnerable, whereas education (P = 0·030), social network (P = 0·054) and urban origin other than Ouagadougou (P = 0·040) played a positive role in food security. To achieve food security in Ouagadougou, access to micronutrient-dense foods needs to be ensured in all seasons.