The young age of mothers of infants with gastroschisis, a congenital defect of the abdominal wall, suggested that deficient nutrition, with maternal-fetal competition for nutrients, could be a risk factor for gastroschisis. This population-based hypothesis-generating study consisted of 55 cases of gastroschisis and 182 matched controls. We assessed maternal nutrient intake during the trimester before conception with a self-reported food-frequency questionnaire and screened 38 nutrients to identify those most likely to be associated with gastroschisis. We used statistical classification trees to empirically generate cutpoints that determined the low and high levels of nutrient intakes corresponding to the risk of gastroschisis; cutpoints for most nutrients were similar to the corresponding recommended daily dietary allowances (RDAs). In univariate analysis, low intake of several nutrients emerged as the leading risk factors: carotenoids, e.g., alpha-carotene (odds ratio (OR) = 4.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.2-9.5), beta-carotene (OR = 3.1; 95% CI = 1.6-6.0); amino-acid compounds, e.g., total glutathione (OR = 3.5; 95% CI = 1.7-7.2); vitamin C (OR = 2.2; 95% CI = 1.5-7.8); vitamin E (OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.2-4.4); and minerals, fiber, and the fruit-and-vegetable group (OR = 3.1; 95% CI = 1.5-6.2). High intake of nitrosamines (OR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.3-4.5) was also a good candidate. Many nutrient values were correlated and, in multivariate analysis, those most associated with gastroschisis were low alpha-carotene (OR = 4.3; 95% CI = 1.9-9.8), low total glutathione (OR = 3.3; 95% CI = 1.4-7.6), and high nitrosamines (OR = 2.6; 95% CI = 1.3-5.4). Adjusting for variables associated with gastroschisis in previous analyses of this population did not substantially alter those risks. These results suggest that maternal dietary inadequacy may be a risk factor for gastroschisis, and the three nutrients that emerged from the nutrient screening appear to be the best candidates to examine in further epidemiological analyses or biological studies.