OBJECTIVE: To review the literature examining associations between environmental factors, energy and fat intakes among adults, and to identify issues for future research. METHODS: Literature searches of studies published between 1980 and 2004 were conducted in major databases (i.e. PubMed, Human Nutrition, Web of Science, PsychInfo, Sociofile). Additional articles were located by citation tracking. RESULTS: Twenty-one articles met the inclusion criteria. No study provided a clear conceptualisation of how environmental factors may influence these dietary intakes. Availability, social, cultural and material aspects of the environment were relatively understudied compared with other factors such as seasonal/day of the week variation and work-related factors. Few studies examined the specific environmental factors implicated in the obesity epidemic, and there was little study replication. All studies were observational and cross-sectional. CONCLUSIONS: It is too premature to conclude whether or not environmental factors play a role in obesogenic and unhealthy dietary intakes. More studies need to examine associations with those environmental factors thought to contribute to obesogenic environments. There needs to be more development in theories that conceptualise the relationship between environmental factors and dietary intakes.