Dietary phytoestrogens such as the isoflavones daidzein and genistein are thought to protect against chronic diseases that are common in Western societies, such as cancer, osteoporosis, and ischemic heart disease. In addition, there are concerns regarding the deleterious effects of hormone-like compounds, especially with respect to the development of infants. However, there is little information regarding the phytoestrogen content of foods, and therefore epidemiologic investigations of phytoestrogens are limited. As part of a study quantifying the consumption of phytoestrogens, the objective of this work was to assess the daidzein and genistein content of fruits and nuts commonly eaten in Europe. Eighty different fruits and nuts were sampled, prepared for eating, and freeze-dried. Daidzein and genistein were extracted from the dried foods, and the two isoflavones were quantified after hydrolytic removal of any conjugated carbohydrate. Completeness of extraction and any procedural losses of the isoflavones were accounted for using synthetic daidzin (7-O-glucosyl-4'-hydroxyisoflavone) and genistin (7-O-glucosyl-4'5-dihydroxyisoflavone) as internal standards. Of the 80 foods assayed, 43 contained no detectable daidzein or genistein, at a limit of quantification of 1 microg/kg dry weight of food. Nine foods contained more than 100 microg of the two isoflavones combined per kilogram wet weight, and 28 contained less than this amount. Currants and raisins were the richest sources of the isoflavones, containing 2,250 microg and 1,840 microg of the two isoflavones combined per kilogram of wet weight of food. Although fruits and nuts are not as rich in isoflavone phytoestrogens as are soy and other legumes, this is the first documentation of levels of daidzein and genistein occurring in these foods.