Few prospective studies have examined the effects of different types of dairy food on the risks of type 2 diabetes, CHD and mortality. We examined whether intakes of total dairy, high-fat dairy, low-fat dairy, milk and fermented dairy products were related to these outcomes in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. At baseline, dairy consumption was assessed by FFQ among 4526 subjects (72% men) with a mean age 56 (sd 6) years. Death certificates and medical records were used to ascertain CHD mortality and non-fatal myocardial infarction. Incident diabetes was detected by the oral glucose tolerance test or self-report. Incidence data were analysed using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for lifestyle and dietary factors. During approximately 10 years of follow-up, 273 diabetes, 323 CHD and 237 all-cause mortality cases occurred. In multivariable models, intakes of total dairy and types of dairy products were not significantly associated with incident diabetes or CHD (all P values for trend >0·1). Fermented dairy products was inversely associated with overall mortality (hazard ratios approximately 0·7 in the middle and highest tertiles; P for trend < 0·01) but not with incident CHD or diabetes (P>0·3). In conclusion, intakes of total dairy and types of dairy products showed no consistent relationship with incident diabetes, CHD or all-cause mortality.