A computer-based dietary assessment tool, the meal-based intake assessment tool (MBIAT), is described. In the current study, dietary intakes of Fe and Zn fractions (total Fe, non-haem Fe, haem Fe, meat Fe, total Zn) and dietary components that influence Fe and Zn absorption (vitamin C, phytate, Ca, grams of meat/fish/poultry, black tea equivalents, phytate:Zn molar ratio) were assessed. The relative validity of the MBIAT was determined in forty-eight UK men aged 40 years and over by comparing its results with those from weighed diet records collected over 12 d. There was good agreement between the MBIAT and the weighed diet records for median intakes of total, non-haem, haem and meat Fe, Zn, vitamin C, phytate, grams of meat/fish/poultry and phytate:Zn molar ratio. Correlations between the two methods ranged from 0·32 (for Ca) to 0·80 (for haem Fe), with 0·76 for total Fe and 0·75 for Zn. The percentage of participants classified by the MBIAT into the same/opposite weighed diet record quartiles ranged from 56/0 for Fe and 60/0 for Zn to 33/10 for Ca. The questionnaire also showed an acceptable level of agreement between repeat administrations (e.g. a correlation for total Fe of 0·74). In conclusion, the MBIAT is appropriate for assessing group dietary intakes of total Fe and Zn and their absorption modifiers in UK men aged 40 years and over.