Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory process, the aetiology of which is complex and probably multi-factorial. Nutrition has been proposed to be an important aetiological factor for IBD. The present review critically examines the relationship between components of the diet (such as sugar, fat, fibre, fruit and vegetables, and protein) and IBD, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. In addition, it investigates the possible role of infant feeding practices in the development of IBD. (C) 2003 Lippincott Williams Wilkins.