The role of dietary phyto-oestrogens in health has been of continued interest and debate, but data available on the distribution of intake in the Australian diet are scarce. Therefore, we aimed to estimate phyto-oestrogen consumption in Australian women, describe the pattern of intake and identify correlates of high phyto-oestrogen intake. Study participants were 2078 control women (18–79 years) from two population-based case–control studies on gynaecological cancers (2002–2007). Dietary information was obtained using a 135-item FFQ, and the intakes of isoflavones, lignans, enterolignans and coumestans, including their individual components, were estimated using a database of phyto-oestrogen content in food developed in the UK. Median total intake (energy-adjusted) of phyto-oestrogens was 1·29 mg/d, including 611 µg/d isoflavones, 639 µg/d lignans, 21 µg/d enterolignans and 8 µg/d coumestrol. Both isoflavone and lignan intakes were strongly skewed towards higher values and positively correlated with age. Women consumed on average two servings of soyabean foods/week. Compared to lower phyto-oestrogen consumers (≤1·29 mg/d, median split), higher phyto-oestrogen consumers (>1·29 mg/d) were slightly older, less likely to be smokers, had a higher educational and physical activity level, lower BMI, lower intake of dietary fat, and higher intake of fibre, selected micronutrients and soyabean foods (all P < 0·03). The daily intake of phyto-oestrogens in Australian women with predominantly Caucasian ethnicity is approximately 1 mg; this is similar to other Western populations, but considerably lower than that among Asian women. However, those with a relatively high phyto-oestrogen diet seem to have a healthier lifestyle and a more favourable dietary profile compared to others.