Little is known about dietary factors and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) risk, although high intakes of animal protein and milk have been associated with NHL in two previous studies. As part of a population-based case-control study of agricultural and other risk factors for NHL in eastern Nebraska (USA), we examined the self- and proxy-reported frequency of consumption of 30 food items by 385 White men and women with NHL and 1,432 controls. Animal protein intake was not associated significantly with the risk of NHL, however, there was a nonsignificantly elevated risk of NHL among men with high milk consumption. Vitamin C, carotene, citrus fruit, and dark green vegetable intakes were inversely significantly related to the risk of NHL for men, but not for women. Among men, the odds ratios for the highest quartiles of both vitamin C and carotene intake were 0.6 (95% confidence intervals = 0.3-1.0). There were no meaningful differences in the associations of nutrient intakes and NHL risk between B- and T-cell lymphomas and histologic types. Risks for low intakes of vitamin C and carotene were greater among men and women with a family history of cancer, particularly a history of lymphatic or hematopoietic cancer among first-degree relatives.