Vitamin D deficiency is a global public health concern. Studies of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) determinants in young women are limited and few include objective covariates. Our aims were to define the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and examine serum 25(OH)D correlates in an exploratory study of women aged 16–25 years. We studied 348 healthy females living in Victoria, Australia, recruited through Facebook. Data collected included serum 25(OH)D assayed by liquid chromatography-tandem MS, relevant serum biochemistry, soft tissue composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, skin melanin density, Fitzpatrick skin type, sun exposure using UV dosimeters and lifestyle factors. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 68 (sd 27) nmol/l and 26 % were vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D <50 nmol/l). The final model explained 56 % of 25(OH)D variance. Serum sex hormone-binding globulin levels, creatinine levels, sun exposure measured by UV dosimeters, a positive attitude towards sun tanning, typically spending >2 h in the sun in summer daily, holidaying in the most recent summer period, serum Fe levels, height and multivitamin use were positively associated with 25(OH)D. Fat mass and a blood draw in any season except summer was inversely associated with 25(OH)D. Vitamin D deficiency is common in young women. Factors such as hormonal contraception, sun exposure and sun-related attitudes, as well as dietary supplement use are essential to consider when assessing vitamin D status. Further investigation into methods to safely optimise vitamin D status and to improve understanding of the impact of vitamin D status on long-term health outcomes is required.