Breakfast consumption patterns were assessed for 467 10-year-old children (59% white, 50% girls), who were interviewed in 1984-1985 or in 1987-1988. Consumption patterns were then related to mean daily nutrient intake patterns. More whites (56%) and more girls (46%) ate breakfast at home, whereas more blacks (58%) and more boys (49%) ate breakfast at school. Results indicated that 16% of all children skipped breakfast; the highest percentage was in black girls (24%). Breakfast consumption made a significant contribution to the child's mean daily nutrient intake. The average total energy intake was significantly lower for children who did not consume breakfast (mean = 1,821 kcal) and for children who consumed breakfast at home (mean = 2,098 kcal) compared with children who consumed breakfast at school (mean = 2,326 kcal). A similar pattern was noted for macronutrient contribution. Percentage of total energy from fat was lower in children who did not eat breakfast (34%) compared with those who did (37% to 39%), yet percentage of energy from carbohydrate was higher (53%) in children who did not eat breakfast. Children who skipped breakfast did not make up the differences in dietary intakes at other meals. A higher percentage of children who did not consume breakfast compared with those who ate breakfast did not meet two thirds of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamins and minerals. These data confirm the importance of breakfast to overall dietary quality and adequacy in school-age children.