Although breakfast consumption is widely considered to be an important component of a healthy lifestyle, few UK studies have examined differences in nutrient intakes between breakfast consumers and breakfast skippers among children and adolescents. We investigated associations between breakfast skipping in 4-18-year-olds and their nutrient intakes using data from the UK's National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme. Dietary data were derived from 4-d estimated food diaries of 802 children aged 4-10 years and 884 children aged 11-18 years (1686 in total). Daily nutrient intakes of children with different breakfast habits were compared by one-way ANCOVA adjusting for relevant covariates (sex, age, ethnicity, equivalised household income and BMI). Within-person analysis was carried out on children with an irregular breakfast habit (n 879) comparing nutrient intakes on breakfast days with those on non-breakfast days using repeated measures ANCOVA. We observed that the overall nutritional profile of the children in terms of fibre and micronutrient intake was superior in frequent breakfast consumers (micronutrients: folate, Ca, Fe and I (P<0·01)) and, for the 4-10 years age group, on breakfast days (micronutrients: folate, vitamin C, Ca and I (P<0·01)). Also, significantly higher proportions of breakfast-consuming children met their reference nutrient intakes of folate, vitamin C, Ca, Fe and I compared with breakfast skippers (χ 2 analysis, P<0·001). Our study adds to the body of data linking breakfast consumption with higher quality dietary intake in school-age children, supporting the promotion of breakfast as an important element of a healthy dietary pattern in children.