OBJECTIVE: To study the relationship of self-esteem and personality factors with eating disorders (ED). METHODS: A region-wide representative sample of 2862 girls 12-21 years old from Navarre (Spain) participated in the baseline assessment of a prospective study. A two-stage procedure was used, consisting in a first screening phase followed by a psychiatrist interview (DSM-IV criteria). Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine the association of self-esteem (36-item scale) and personality characteristics (Eysenck inventory) with psychiatrist-diagnosed ED while controlling for potential confounders. RESULTS: Strong associations for ED were found with low self-esteem (adjusted odds ratio [adjOR] for the lowest quartile: 7.98, 95% CI: 3.4-18.8) and high levels of neuroticism (adjOR for the highest quartile: 9.49, 95% Cl: 3.7-24.5). DISCUSSION: Our results, although based on a cross-sectional design, support the potential role of neuroticism and low self-esteem in the onset of ED.