Dietary supplements have been suggested in the prevention of the common cold, but previous investigations have been inconsistent. The present study was designed to determine the preventive effect of a dietary supplement from fruits and vegetables on common cold symptoms. In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, healthcare professionals (mainly nursing staff aged 18–65 years) from a university hospital in Berlin, Germany, were randomised to four capsules of dietary supplement (Juice Plus+®) or matching placebo daily for 8 months, including a 2-month run-in period. The number of days with moderate or severe common cold symptoms within 6 months (primary outcome) was assessed by diary self-reports. We determined means and 95 % CI, and differences between the two groups were analysed by ANOVA. A total of 529 subjects were included into the primary analysis (Juice Plus+®: 263, placebo: 266). The mean age of the participants was 39·9 (sd 10·3) years, and 80 % of the participants were female. The mean number of days with moderate or severe common cold symptoms was 7·6 (95 % CI 6·5, 8·8) in the Juice Plus+® group and 9·5 (8·4, 10·6) in the placebo group (P = 0·023). The mean number of total days with any common cold symptoms was similar in the Juice Plus+® and in the placebo groups (29·4 (25·8, 33·0) v. 30·7 (27·1, 34·3), P = 0·616). Intake of a dietary supplement from fruits and vegetables was associated with a 20 % reduction of moderate or severe common cold symptom days in healthcare professionals particularly exposed to patient contact.