Both intake of whole grain and higher levels of serum enterolactone have been related to reduced risk for CHD and some cancers. Because lignans are prevalent in the outer layers of grains, these findings may be related. We carried out a crossover feeding study in which overweight, hyperinsulinaemic, non-diabetic men (n 5) and women (n 6) ate, in random order, wholegrain foods or refined-grain foods in a diet with 30% energy from fat. The dominant whole grain was wheat, followed by oats and rice. All food was supplied by the investigators and each diet lasted for 6 weeks, with an intervening washout period of 6–9 weeks. Serum enterolactone concentrations were higher when eating the wholegrain than the refined-grain diet by 6·2 (within person SE 1·7) nmol/l (P=0·0008). Most of the increase in serum enterolactone when eating the wholegrain diet occurred within 2 weeks, though the serum enterolactone difference between wholegrain and refined-grain diets continued to increase through 6 weeks. Serum enterolactone concentrations can be raised by eating a diet rich in whole grains.