Vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration <50 nmol/l) is recognised as a public health problem globally. The present study details the prevalence and predictors of vitamin D deficiency in a nationally representative sample (n 3250) of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged ≥18 years. We used data from the 2012–2013 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS). Serum 25(OH)D concentrations were measured by liquid chromatography-tandem MS. Survey-weighted logistic regression models were used to determine the independent predictors of vitamin D deficiency. Approximately 27 % of adult AATSIHS participants were vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in remote areas (39 %) than in non-remote areas (23 %). Independent predictors of vitamin D deficiency included assessment during winter (men, adjusted OR (aOR) 5·7; 95 % CI 2·2, 14·6; women, aOR 2·2; 95 % CI 1·3, 3·8) and spring (men, aOR 3·3; 95 % CI 1·4, 7·5; women, aOR 2·6; 95 % CI 1·5, 4·5) compared with summer, and obesity (men, aOR 2·6; 95 % CI 1·2, 5·4; women, aOR 4·3; 95 % CI 2·8, 6·8) compared with healthy weight. Statistically significant associations were evident for current smokers (men only, aOR 2·0; 95 % CI 1·2, 3·4), remote-dwelling women (aOR 2·0; 95 % CI 1·4, 2·9) and university-educated women (aOR 2·4; 95 % CI 1·2, 4·8). Given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in this population, strategies to maintain adequate vitamin D status through safe sun exposure and dietary approaches are needed.