In a population‐based case‐control study of 416 incident gliomas in adults carried out in Melbourne, Australia, between 1987 and 1991, 409 age‐sex‐matched case‐control pairs (243 male and 166 female) had adequate data available to examine associations between the dietary intake of N‐nitroso compounds, N‐nitroso precursors, other nutrients including N‐nitroso inhibitors, and the risk of glioma. Dietary intakes were based on the reported frequency of consumption of 59 food items. Increased odds ratio (OR) were observed in males who consumed high levels of bacon, corned meats, apples, melons and oil. OR less than unity were observed in men consuming cabbage and cola drinks, and in women who consumed wholegrain bread, pasta, corned meat, bananas, cauliflower, broccoli, cola drinks and nuts. Generally, N‐nitroso associations were greater in men and micronutrient associations were greater in women. Elevated OR in men, but not women, were associated with the intake of N‐nitroso dimethylamine (NDMA), retinol and vitamin E. The intake of nitrate (largely of vegetable origin) was protective in women but not in men. When analyzed using multiple logistic regression, the association with NDMA intake in males was not modified by dietary micronutrient intakes. In females, beta carotene alone, though not directly associated with risk, modified the effect of NDMA. On balance, this study added only limited support to the N‐nitroso hypothesis of glial carcinogenesis. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.