Children are not consuming sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables in their habitual diet. Methods derived from associative learning theories could be effective at promoting vegetable intake in pre-school children. The objective of the present study was to compare the effectiveness of different learning strategies in promoting the intake of a novel vegetable. Children aged between 9 and 38 months were recruited from UK nurseries. The children (n 72) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (repeated exposure, flavour-flavour learning or flavour-nutrient learning). Each child was offered ten exposures to their respective version of a novel vegetable (artichoke). Pre- and post-intervention measures of artichoke purée and carrot purée (control vegetable) intake were taken. At pre-intervention, carrot intake was significantly higher than artichoke intake (P<0·05). Intake of both vegetables increased over time (P<0·001); however, when changes in intake were investigated, artichoke intake increased significantly more than carrot intake (P<0·001). Artichoke intake increased to the same extent in all three conditions, and this effect was persistent up to 5 weeks post-intervention. Five exposures were sufficient to increase intake compared to the first exposure (P<0·001). Repeated exposure to three variants of a novel vegetable was sufficient to increase intake of this vegetable, regardless of the addition of a familiar taste or energy. Repetition is therefore a critical factor for promoting novel vegetable intake in pre-school children.