Little is known about the aetiology of brain tumours. One putative factor suggested from animal models is a protective effect of dietary Zn. We tested the hypothesis that increased compared with low dietary Zn intake is protective against brain tumour development. We conducted a population-based case–control study in the UK, of adults aged 18–69 years, between 2001 and 2004 aiming to identify possible risk factors. Dietary information was collected from 637 cases diagnosed with a glioma or meningioma, and 876 controls. Data were obtained from a self-completed FFQ. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted, adjusting for socio-demographic factors, season of questionnaire return, multivitamin supplementation and energy intake. Although a weak protective effect was observed for the third quartile of intake (normal compared with low intake) in the meningioma group, this was limited to the specific brain tumour subtype and quartile, and was not significant after also adjusting for intake of other elements. Overall there was no significant effect of Zn intake. No association or dose–response relationship was observed between increased compared with low Zn intake and risk of glioma or meningioma.