A meta-analysis was carried out, in order to summarise published data on the relationship between breast cancer, fruit and vegetable consumption and/or the intake of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Relative risks were extracted from 26 published studies from 1982 to 1997. Random and fixed effects models were used. Between studies, heterogeneity was found for vegetables, fruit, vitamin C but not for beta-carotene. Summary relative risk (RR) estimates based upon a random effects model, except for beta-carotene, for 'high consumption' compared with 'low consumption', derived from the studies satisfying the inclusion criteria were as follows: vegetable consumption: RR=0.75 (95% CI (confidence interval) 0.66-0.85) from 17 studies; fruit consumption: RR=0.94 (95% CI 0.79-1.11) from 12 studies; vitamin C: RR=0.80 (95% CI 0.68-0.95) from 9 studies; beta-carotene: RR=0.82 (95% CI 0.76-0.91) from 11 studies. This analysis confirms the association between intake of vegetables and, to a lesser extent, fruits and breast cancer risk from published sources. Increasing vegetable consumption might reduce the risk of breast cancer.