Abstract Background For women, delayed conception and recurrent pregnant loss are just a few of the health implications associated with a caffeine-rich diet (Mol. Hum. Reprod., 11, 357). At present there is a deficit of prospective research measuring current habitual intakes of caffeine in UK women. The purpose of the current study was to collect up-to-date baseline data to assess caffeine intake and knowledge in a group of women (aged 16–45 years). Methods Seventy Caucasian subjects (mean age 30.4 ± 8.7 years) were recruited from business offices within the Manchester area. Each participant completed a 3-day food diary and lifestyle questionnaire. Results The mean intake of caffeine was 173.95 mg day−1 (±128.39 mg day−1). Eighteen per cent of subjects exceeded caffeine guidelines and consumed 300 mg caffeine or more each day. Subjects consuming over 300 mg day−1 were more likely to be older (P = 0.016) and smokers (P = 0.000). Individuals given previous advice about caffeine and health, had lower intakes (P = 0.002). Conclusions Many women are unaware of health perturbations associated with caffeine consumption. A diet abundant in caffeine may result in delayed conception, infertility and increased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer later in life. Such information needs to be conveyed to the public sector. Future research is also required to devise specific caffeine guidelines, particularly safe upper limits.