The aims of the present study were to provide nationally representative data on fruit and vegetable consumption in Vietnam, and to assess the accuracy of the reported numbers of ‘standard servings’ consumed. Data analysed were from a multi-stage stratified cluster survey of 14 706 participants (46·5 % males, response proportion 64·1 %) aged 25−64 years in Vietnam. Measurements were made in accordance with the WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance of non-communicable diseases (STEPS) protocols. Approximately 80 % of Vietnamese people reported having less than five servings of fruit and vegetables daily in a typical week. Fruit and vegetable intake reported in ‘standard serving’ sizes was positively correlated with levels of education completed and household income (P<0·001 for trend). The correlations between summary values for each province reflect some known demographic, geographical and climatic characteristics of the country. For example, provinces at higher latitude had higher mean servings of vegetables (r 0·90), and provinces with higher proportions of urban population had higher mean servings of fruit (r 0·40). In conclusion, about eight in ten Vietnamese people aged 25–64 years did not meet WHO recommendations for daily consumption of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables. On the basis of the consistency of the data collected with other estimates and with physical and demographic characteristics of the country, the WHO STEPS instrument has construct validity for measuring fruit and vegetable intake, but with two issues identified. The issues were seasonal variation in reporting and a limitation on the usefulness of the information for associative analyses.