Nutrient intake data are reported from a 60-item food frequency questionnaire administered in the 1987 National Health Interview Survey to a representative sample of US adults 18 to 99 years of age (n = 22,080). These data provide for the first time an estimate of the distribution of usual nutrient intakes in a national probability sample. For several nutrients, 10% to 25% of respondents may habitually consume substantially less than the Recommended Dietary Allowance, despite apparently adequate group means. Hispanics reported higher energy and carbohydrate intakes and a lower percentage of energy from fat than blacks or whites (35.6%, 38.4%, and 38.7% of energy from fat for Hispanics, blacks, and whites, respectively.) Whites had lower cholesterol intake than the other two groups, and blacks had a higher intake of sweets. Alcohol intake was lower among women and persons older than 65 years, but no other differences in alcohol intake emerged. Use of adjustment factors improved nutrient intake estimates from this shortened questionnaire to levels similar to those obtained from other national dietary surveys. The nutrient intake data from this research can be used to compare demographic subgroups and to describe the mean and distribution of nutrient intake. Furthermore, this research provides national reference data to investigators who use this or related questionnaires in nutrition research.