To evaluate whether the protective effect associated with vegetables and fruits in breast cancer could be explained by nutrients and bioactive substances present in these plant foods, we carried out a case-control study in Uruguay including 400 cases and 405 controls. The intake of vegetables, fruits, and related nutrients was estimated with a food frequency questionnaire on 64 food items. This questionnaire allowed the calculation of total energy intake, and nutrients were calorie adjusted by the residuals method. Odds ratios for study variables were estimated by unconditional multiple logistic regression. Total vegetable, total fruit, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene, folate, and total phytosterol intakes were inversely associated with breast cancer risk [4th quartile odds ratio for total vegetable intake = 0.41, 95% confidence interval = 0.26-0.65, p (for trend) = 0.004]. The association with total vegetable intake was not independent of lycopene intake. The results related to vegetable and nutrient intakes are consistent with antioxidant and antiestrogenic effects. This could be mediated, among other nutrients, by dietary fiber and lycopene intake. The role of other unmeasured phytochemicals, correlated with dietary fiber and lycopene intakes, cannot be ruled out.