OBJECTIVES: To identify the types and quantities of 'extra' foods, or energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, consumed by Australian adults, and assess their contribution to total energy and nutrient intakes. SUBJECT/METHODS: We used 24-h recall data from 10 851 adults, aged 19 years and over, who participated in the nationally representative 1995 National Nutrition Survey. 'Extra' foods were defined using principles outlined in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and by applying cut points for maximum amounts of fat and sugar within each food category. RESULTS: 'Extra' foods contributed to 36% of daily energy intake with the highest contributors being fried potatoes (2.8%), margarine (2.6%), cakes and muffins (2.5%), beer (2.4%), sugar-sweetened soft drinks (2.4%), and meat pies (2.2%). Both age and sex were important determinants of 'extra' foods intake; younger adults were more likely to consume sugar-sweetened soft drinks, fried potatoes, meat pies and savoury pastries, pizza, crisps, lollies and chocolate; whereas older adults were more likely to consume sweet and savoury biscuits, cakes and muffins, margarine and butter. In all age groups, 'extra' foods contributed more to energy intake for men than women. Overall, 'extra' foods contributed 16% protein, 41% total fat, 41% saturated fat, 47% sugar and approximately 20% of selected micronutrients to the diet. CONCLUSIONS: 'Extra' foods contribute excessively to the energy, fat and sugar intakes of Australian adults, while providing relatively few micronutrients. This is of concern for the increasing risk of overweight and chronic disease and poor micronutrient status.