Estimates of food consumption and macronutrient intake were obtained from a randomly selected population sample (2%) of 1015 adolescents aged 12 and 15 years in Northern Ireland during the 1990/1991 school year. Dietary intake was assessed by diet history with photographic album to estimate portion size. Reported median energy intakes were 11.0 and 13.1 MJ/d for boys aged 12 and 15 years respectively and 9.2 and 9.1 MJ/d for girls of these ages. Protein, carbohydrate and total sugars intakes as a percentage of total energy varied little between the age and sex groups and were approximately 11, 49 and 20 % respectively of daily total energy intakes. Median dietary fibre intakes were approximately 20 and 24 g/d for boys aged 12 and 15 years respectively and 18 and 19 g/d for girls of these ages. Major food sources of energy (as a percentage of total energy intakes) were bread and cereals (15–18 %), cakes and biscuits (12–14%), chips and crisps (13–14%), dairy products (9-ll%), meat and meat products (9–11%) and confectionery (9%). Fruit and vegetable intakes were low at about 2.5% and 1.5% respectively of total energy intakes. Median fat intakes were high at 39% of total daily energy intakes. Major food sources of fat as a percentage of total fat intakes were from the food groupings: chips and crisps (16–19%), meat and meat products (14–17%), fats and oils (14–16%), cakes and biscuits (13–16%) and dairy products (12–15%). Median intakes of saturated fatty acids were also high at approximately 15% of daily total energy intake while intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids averaged 12% of daily total energy intake. Median polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intakes were low, comprising 5.2 and 5.5 % of daily total energy intake for boys aged 12 and 15 years respectively and were lower than the PUFA intakes (59 and 6.3% of daily total energy intake) for girls of these ages. About 1.3 % for boys and 1.4 % for girls of daily total energy intake was in the form of n-3 PUFA. Ca and Mg intakes were adequate for both sexes. Based on these results, some concern about the dietary habits and related health consequences in Northern Ireland adolescents appears justified.