Nutrition support is an important part of care management in critically ill patients, not only to prevent and treat malnutrition but also it has a significant impact on recovery from illness and overall outcome. There is little information available about present nutritional support practice for patients in intensive care units (ICU) in the UK. This survey was designed to evaluate the present nutrition support practice in ICU and high dependency units (HDU) in England. Data were gathered by a 72 h phone survey from 245 ICU and HDU in 196 hospitals in England. A questionnaire was completed over the telephone, including general information, nutrition support and teams involved in the nutrition management in the ICU. Of 1286 total patients in the ICU, 703 (54·6 %) were receiving nasogastric feeding, two (1·5 %) were receiving feeding via a percutaneous endoscopically placed gastrostomy tube and two (1·5 %) were receiving nasojejunal feeding. One hundred and forty-seven (11·4 %) patients were on parenteral feeding during the study period. A nutrition support team was not available in 158 (83·1 %) ICU and there was no dietitian or specialist nutrition nurse to cover ICU in nine (4·7 %) hospitals. In conclusion, the present survey reported an increased trend in usage of enteral feeding in ICU in England, and a reduction in the use of parenteral nutrition compared with previous surveys. However, we are still far from integrating nutrition into care management in the ICU.