Breath analysis is becoming increasingly established as a means of assessing metabolic, biochemical and physiological function in health and disease. The methods available for these analyses exploit a variety of complex physicochemical principles, but are becoming more easily utilised in the clinical setting. Whilst some of the factors accounting for the biological variation in breath metabolite concentrations have been clarified, there has been relatively little work on the dietary factors that may influence them. In applying breath analysis to the clinical setting, it will be important to consider how these factors may affect the interpretation of endogenous breath composition. Diet may have complex effects on the generation of breath compounds. These effects may either be due to a direct impact on metabolism, or because they alter the gastrointestinal flora. Bacteria are a major source of compounds in breath, and their generation of H2, hydrogen cyanide, aldehydes and alkanes may be an indicator of the health of their host.