Circulating fetuin-A, a novel marker for hepatic fat accumulation, has been related to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in a growing number of prospective studies. However, little is known about dietary determinants of fetuin-A concentrations in the general population. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the association between dietary intake of energy, energy-providing nutrients, alcohol and major food groups and plasma fetuin-A concentrations in the Bavarian Food Consumption Survey II. Dietary intake was assessed by three 24-h dietary recalls, and plasma concentrations of fetuin-A were measured in 558 adults (18–81 years). After multivariable adjustment for lifestyle factors and body fatness, higher energy intake was nonsignificantly associated with higher fetuin-A concentrations (per 2092 kJ/d (500 kcal/d) 3·7 µg/ml, 95 % CI –0·5, 7·8 µg/ml). There was no clear association between energy-providing nutrients and fetuin-A concentrations. Higher alcohol intake was associated with lower fetuin-A concentrations (Ptrend 0·003): mean fetuin-A concentrations were 324 (95 % CI 313, 335) µg/ml in non-drinkers, and with 293 (95 % CI 281, 306) µg/ml significantly lower in participants who drank ≥30 g alcohol per d. Mean fetuin-A concentrations decreased across quintiles of milk and dairy product intake (lowest quintile 319 (95 % CI 309, 330) µg/ml; highest quintile 304 (95 % CI 293, 314) µg/ml; Ptrend 0·03), and each 150-g increment in milk/dairy products per d was associated with 5·6 (95 % CI –9·6, –1·5) µg/ml lower fetuin-A. Dietary intakes of vegetables, meat or fish were not associated with fetuin-A concentrations. Because of the preventive potential of our findings, further exploration is warranted.