In Norway, children and adolescents consume only about half of the national five-a-day recommendation. There are also rather large social inequalities in health, and in eating behaviours. In order to increase fruit and vegetable (FV) intake, a subscription programme was initiated in 1996 and made nationwide in 2003, and a free programme (without parental payment) has been implemented nationwide from 2007. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the effect of these efforts. Pupils in the sixth and seventh grades (age 10–12 years) at twenty-seven schools responded to a questionnaire in 2001 (n 1488, 85 %) and in 2008 (n 1339, 78 %). FV intake was measured by a 24-h recall. In 2001, none of the schools had any organised school fruit programme. In 2008, five schools participated in the free school fruit programme, ten schools participated in the subscription programme and twelve schools did not participate in any official programme. The increases in fruit intake at school were 0·49, 0·29 and 0·18 portions/school day, respectively, for the Free Fruit 08, Subscription 08 and No Programme 08 schools (time × group P < 0·001), and 0·74, 0·39 and 0·16 portions/d for fruit intake all day (time × group P = 0·04). No group effect was observed for vegetable intake. There has been an increase in pupils' fruit intake from 2001 to 2008 in Norway, and the school fruit programmes seem to have been effective. A great challenge remains in increasing vegetable intake.