The association between vegetables and fruit consumption and gastric cancer risk was investigated in a population-based prospective study in 4 public health center areas in Japan. Dietary and other exposure data were obtained in 1990 from a cohort of 19,304 men and 20,689 women with a self-administered questionnaire. After 10 years of follow-up, a total of 404 cases of gastric cancer were documented among them. After adjustment for age, gender, areas and other potential confounding factors and after exclusion of the cases diagnosed in first and second follow-up years, the relative risk associated with intake 1 or more days per week compared to less than 1 day per week was 0.64 (95% CI 0.45–0.92) for yellow vegetable, 0.48 (95% CI 0.25–0.89) for white vegetable and 0.70 (95% CI 0.49–1.00) for fruit. Relative risks associated with quintile of total vegetable consumption were 1.00, 0.86, 0.75, 0.90 and 0.75 (p for trend = 0.17). In the differentiated type of gastric cancer, the association became clearer: 1.00, 0.96, 0.78, 0.88 and 0.53 (p for trend = 0.03). This prospective study suggests that vegetable and fruit intake, even in low amounts, is associated with a lower risk of gastric cancer. Although no striking differences in the association were seen between cardia and noncardia cancer, an inverse association was higher in differentiated rather than in undifferentiated types of gastric cancer. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.