Integrating information about the glycaemic index (GI) of foods into the Caribbean diet is limited by the lack of data. Therefore, we determined the GI of eight staple foods eaten in the Caribbean and the effect on GI of crushing selected tubers. Groups of eight to ten healthy volunteers participated in three studies at two sites. GI was determined using a standard method with white bread and adjusted relative to glucose. The mean area under the glucose response curve elicited by white bread was similar for the different groups of subjects. In study 1, the GI of cassava (Manihot esculenta; 94 (SEM 11)) was significantly higher than those of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis; 60 (SEM 9)), cooking ‘green’ banana (Musa spp.; 65 (SEM 11)) and sadha roti (65 (SEM 9)) (P=0·018). There was no significant difference in the GI of the foods in study 2: dasheen (Colocasia esculenta var. esculenta; 77 (SEM 10)), eddoes (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum; 61 (SEM 10)), Irish potato (Solanum tuberosum; 71 (SEM 8)), tannia (Xanthosoma sagittifolium; 60 (SEM 5)) and white yam (Dioscorea alata; 62 (SEM 6)), and, in study 3, crushing did not significantly affect the GI of dasheen, tannia or Irish potato. However, when the results from studies 2 and 3 were pooled, the GI of dasheen (76 (SEM 7)) was significantly greater than that of tannia (55 (SEM 5); P=0·015) with potato being intermediate (69 (SEM 6)). We conclude that dasheen and cassava are high-GI foods, whereas the other tubers studied and sadha roti are intermediate-GI foods. Given the regular usage of cassava and dasheen in Caribbean diets we speculate that these diets would tend to be high GI, although this could be reduced by foods such as sadha roti and white yam. The range of GI between the staples is sufficiently large that health benefits may be accrued by replacing high-GI staples with intermediate-GI staples in the Caribbean diet.