The objective of this paper was to compare the nutrient intakes of mothers of different ethnic origins after they had given birth to a low birth weight (LBW) baby (< 2.5 kg). A total of 165 participants from East London, UK completed a prospective 7-day diet diary using household measures, between 8 and 12 weeks post-partum. The data were originally collected as baseline data prior to two separate nutrition intervention studies and were combined and re-interrogated for the purpose of this paper. Folate and iron intakes were low in all ethnic groups compared to the Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNI). Half did not meet the RNI for folate and 88% did not meet the RNI for iron. Nearly a quarter of the group did not achieve the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI) for iron. The mean vitamin D and calcium intakes were significantly different between the ethnic groups (P = 0.007, P = 0.001, respectively). African women had the highest vitamin D intakes (4.72 microg d(-1)) and Caucasians and Asians the lowest (2.4 microg d(-1)). Caucasians had the highest calcium intakes (780 mg d(-1)) and Africans the lowest (565 mg d(-1)). Over two-thirds of African, Asian and African-Caribbean women did not meet the RNI for calcium. Thirty-one per cent of Africans did not meet the LRNI for calcium. Our data show a high prevalence of inadequate nutrition among women who deliver LBW babies with differences in nutrient intake between ethnic groups. This information can be used to target specific appropriate dietary advice to ethnic minorities for the prevention or repetition of LBW.