The purpose of this article is to examine dietary intake levels and major food sources of energy and nutrients for the Taiwanese elderly in order to relate nutrient intakes to food choices and to provide suggestions for dietary improvement. The data were derived from the 24-hour recalls from 1,911 subjects (955 males and 956 females) aged 65 and above, who participated in the Elderly NAHSIT carried out from 1999 to 2000. The differences in food consumption patterns between the elderly and younger adults (aged 19 to 64) were also evaluated by comparison with data obtained from NAHSIT 1993-1996. The results revealed that cereals/roots, meat, other protein-rich foods and fats/oils contributed most to daily energy intake. The energy contributions from fats/oils, poultry, meat, other protein-rich foods, refreshments/snacks, alcoholic beverages, and miscellaneous food groups were lower in elderly diets compared with those of younger adults. Meat and cereals/roots were the major food sources of protein. The main carbohydrate-contributing food group was cereals/roots, while primary lipid sources were meat and fats/oils for the elderly. The food groups with a high contribution to vitamin intake were the following: vegetables for vitamin A; meat and cereals/roots for vitamin B1; dairy products, vegetables, cereals/roots and meat for vitamin B2; cereals/roots, seafood and meat for niacin; meat, vegetables and cereals/roots for vitamin B6; plant oils for vitamin E; and vegetables and fruit for vitamin C. The highest ranked food sources for minerals are listed as follows: dairy products, vegetables and seafood for calcium; dairy products and cereals/roots for phosphorous; vegetables and meat for iron; and vegetables, cereals/ roots, other protein-rich foods and seafood for magnesium. The elderly were found to consume more salt, dairy products and vegetables, but less poultry and meat than their younger counterparts. In summary, differences in consumption patterns between the elderly and younger adults was reflected in differences in common food sources of energy and specific nutrients. The dietary patterns of the elderly are in general "healthier" than that of younger adults except for higher salt intake among the elderly. Nonetheless, our elderly population needs to increase their intake of calcium, magnesium, vitamins E and B6, and dietary fiber, and decrease their consumption of salt. Promoting the ingestion of whole-grain and nut products may be a useful strategy to improve the nutritional status of the Taiwanese elderly, aiming at increasing the percentage of energy obtained from carbohydrates and the daily intake of vitamins E and B6, magnesium, and dietary fiber. Suitable strategies are also needed to improve the calcium status of Taiwanese elderly, particularly as a high proportion of them are either lactose intolerant or dislike dairy products.