OBJECTIVE:To compare relative weight, weight loss efforts and nutrient intakes among similarly health-conscious vegetarian, past vegetarian and nonvegetarian premenopausal women. METHODS:Demographic data, lifestyle practices and weight loss efforts (by questionnaire), body mass index (BMI;kg/m2) and dietary intake (via multiple-pass 24-hour diet recall) were compared in a convenience sample of 90 current vegetarians, 35 past vegetarians and 68 nonvegetarians. RESULTS:Age (31.9 +/- 8.8), educational attainment, smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity and perceived health status were similar among the three groups of women. BMI did not differ by dietary pattern and averaged 23.7 +/- 4.7 for all women combined. Participants had intentionally lost > or = 10 pounds a mean of 2.1 times, and 39% of women perceived themselves to be overweight; again, no differences were observed among dietary groups. Dietary intakes of vegetarians and current nonvegetarians were consistent with current recommendations for macronutrient composition (< 30% fat, < 10% saturates). Compared to current nonvegetarians, current vegetarians had lower intakes of protein, saturated fat, cholesterol, niacin, vitamins B12 and D, and higher fiber and magnesium intakes. Vegetarians' mean vitamin B12 and D intakes were well below recommendations. CONCLUSIONS:Relative weight and weight loss efforts do not differ by dietary pattern among similarly health-conscious vegetarian and nonvegetarian women. The only differences in nutrient intake with potential health implications were vitamins D and B12.