To examine associations between dietary patterns identified by factor analysis, and successful ageing.Prospective cohort study with diet measured in 1990-4, and successful ageing in 2003-7. Ordered logistic regression with outcome determined as dead/usual ageing/successful ageing was used to examine associations with quintile groups of dietary factor scores.Men and women (n=6308), without history of major illness at baseline, and aged >70 years at follow-up, or who had died before follow-up but would have been aged >70 at the commencement of follow-up, from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study.Frequencies of intake of 121 foods at baseline were collected in a food frequency questionnaire. Anthropometry and other health and lifestyle data were collected. At follow-up, questionnaire data relating to mental health, physical function and medical history were used to define successful ageing.Four dietary factors were identified, characterized by higher loadings for (1) vegetables; (2) fruit, (3) feta, legumes, salad, olive oil, and inverse loadings for tea, margarine, cake, sweet biscuits and puddings; (4) meat, white bread, savoury pastry dishes and fried foods. In models excluding body size, the second factor 'Fruit' was positively associated with successful ageing (OR in top 20% vs lowest 20% of score 1.31, 95%CI (1.05-1.63), p trend across quintile groups 0.001); while the fourth factor 'Meat/fatty foods' was inversely associated (OR in top 20% vs lowest 20% of score 0.69, 95%CI (0.55-0.86), p trend across quintile groups 0.001). Factors 1 and 3 did not show significant associations with successful ageing. The association for 'Fruit' was little altered after adjustment for body size, while for 'Meat/fatty foods' the association was somewhat attenuated.A dietary pattern including plenty of fruit while limiting meat and fried foods may improve the likelihood of ageing successfully.