Between 1983 and 1986, dietary history interviews were conducted with 238 women aged 50-65 years who had surgery for stage I-II breast cancer. Diagnostic mammograms were coded in line with Wolfe's criteria in N1, P1, P2, and Dy patterns. Women with Dy pattern reported significantly higher intake of total fat, monounsaturated fatty acids (FA), polyunsaturated FA, n-3 FA, n-6 FA in per cent of energy (E%), and alpha-tocopherol in mg/10 MJ. Fat intake was lowest in women with N1 pattern and highest in those having Dy pattern. Patients having ER-rich cancers and Dy pattern reported significantly higher intake of total fat, monounsaturated FA, polyunsaturated FA, n-6 FA (E%), and alpha-tocopherol (mg/10 MJ), as well as significantly lower intake of carbohydrate (E%) and calcium (g/10 MJ). In the stepwise multivariate analysis, the multivariate-odds ratio (OR) for having P2 + Dy patterns was 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.02-1.12) for each increment in E% of total fat. In women with ER-rich tumors this OR was 1.09 (95% CI, 1.02-1.16). The highest self-reported body mass index (BMI) was observed in women with N1 + P1 patterns. OR for having P2 + Dy patterns was 0.91 (95% CI, 0.83-0.98) for each increment in 1 kg/m2 of BMI. The results suggest that dietary habits affect the mammographic parenchymal pattern in women with breast cancer and that a high fat intake is associated with a higher proportion of mammograms with Dy pattern in such patients.