A case-control study comprising 1315 Campylobacter jejuni cases, 121 Campylobacter coli cases and 3409 frequency-matched controls was conducted in The Netherlands in 2002–2003. Risk factors for both C. jejuni and C. coli enteritis were consumption of undercooked meat and barbecued meat, ownership of cats and use of proton pump inhibitors. Consumption of chicken was a predominant risk factor for C. jejuni enteritis, but many additional risk factors were identified. Unique risk factors for C. coli infections were consumption of game and tripe, and swimming. Contact with farm animals and persons with gastroenteritis were predominant risk factors for C. jejuni enteritis in young children (0–4 years). Important risk factors for the elderly (⩾60 years) were eating in a restaurant, use of proton pump inhibitors and having a chronic intestinal illness. Consumption of chicken in spring, steak tartare in autumn and winter and barbecued meat in rural areas showed strong associations with C. jejuni infections. This study illustrates that important differences in risk factors exist for different Campylobacter spp. and these may differ dependent on age, season or degree of urbanization.