BACKGROUND: Previous studies of associations between diet, obesity, and blood concentrations of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene have been equivocal. Furthermore, most studies used only body mass index (BMI) as an obesity measure. OBJECTIVES: Our objectives were to examine the associations between energy and nutrient intakes, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and serum cholesterol and serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene, and to examine the associations between different measures of general and central adiposity and serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene. DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional, population-based study of 253 men and 276 women aged 46-67 y. Nutrient data were collected by a modified diet history method. Measures of obesity included BMI, percentage of body fat (impedance analysis), waist-to-hip ratio, and waist circumference. The associations between serum nutrient concentrations and the other factors were examined by multiple linear regression. RESULTS: Twenty-one percent of men and 34% of women used antioxidant supplements. The mean BMI was 26.1 in men and 25.4 in women. Serum beta-carotene concentration was positively associated with serum cholesterol concentration, fiber intake, and beta-carotene intake, and negatively associated with smoking and all measures of obesity. In men, serum beta-carotene concentration was not significantly associated with central adiposity after adjustment for body fat. Serum alpha-tocopherol concentration was positively correlated with serum cholesterol, obesity, and vitamin E intake. In women, serum alpha-tocopherol concentration was also positively associated with intakes of ascorbic acid and selenium. Serum alpha-tocopherol concentration was associated with central adiposity after adjustment for body fat. CONCLUSION: Serum beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol concentrations have different associations with diet, smoking, general adiposity, and central adiposity.