The content of nitrates were determined in 1,349 samples of vegetables and ready-made food in 2003-2004 as a part of the Estonian food safety monitoring programme and the Estonian Science Foundation grant research activities. The results of manufacturers' analyses carried out for internal monitoring were included in the study. The highest mean values of nitrates were detected in dill, spinach, lettuce and beet root. The mean concentrations were 2,936, 2,508, 2,167 and 1,446 mg kg(-1), respectively. The content of nitrites in samples was lower than 5 mg kg(-1). In total, the mean intake of nitrates by the Estonian population was 58 mg day(-1). The mean content of nitrates in vegetable-based infant foods of Estonian origin was 88 mg kg(-1). The average daily intake of nitrates by children in the age group of 4-6 years was 30 mg. The infants' average daily intake of nitrates from consumption of vegetable-based foods was 7.8 mg.