Certain dietary patterns may be related to the risk of CVD. We hypothesised that a plant-centred dietary pattern would be associated with a reduced risk of first myocardial infarction (MI). A case–control study of Norwegian men and postmenopausal women (age 45–75 years) was performed. A FFQ was administered, generally within 3 d after incident MI (n 106 cases). Controls (n 105) were frequency matched on sex, age and geographic location. On the FFQ, 190 items were categorised into thirty-five food groups and an a priori healthy diet pattern score was created. We estimated OR using logistic regression with adjustment for energy intake, family history of heart disease, marital status, current smoking, education and age. Among food groups, the risk of MI was significantly higher per sd of butter and margarine (OR 1·66 (95 % CI 1·12, 2·46)), and lower per sd of tomatoes (OR 0·53 (95 % CI 0·35, 0·79)), high-fat fish (OR 0·57 (95 % CI 0·38, 0·86)), wine (OR 0·58 (95 % CI 0·41, 0·83)), salad (OR 0·59 (95 % CI 0·40, 0·87)), wholegrain breakfast cereals (OR 0·64 (95 % CI 0·45, 0·90)), cruciferous vegetables (OR 0·66 (95 % CI 0·47, 0·93)) and non-hydrogenated vegetable oil (OR 0·68 (95 % CI 0·49, 0·95)). An abundance of cases were found to have a low a priori healthy diet pattern score. A dietary pattern emphasising nutrient-rich plant foods and high-fat fish and low in trans fatty acids was associated with decreased risk of MI among Norwegians.