OBJECTIVES: To explore the beliefs and attitudes of Australian consumers to claims about fat made on the labels of packaged food. DESIGN: Content analysis of transcripts from focus group discussions. SUBJECTS: A total of 26 female and 10 male participants aged 20-80 y, recruited by advertisement into six focus groups, stratified by age, sex and health status. RESULTS: Awareness of claims about fat was high in this sample of Australians and participants admitted that they influenced their purchase decisions. The most preferred form of claim was 'X% fat free'. Claims were considered most useful on foods that were high in fat. There was considerable scepticism about all nutrient claims, and consumers preferred to check claims about fat against the values in the nutrition information panel. Many claims were seen as advertising that could be misleading, deceptive or confusing. While claims about fat might prompt product trial, factors such as price, taste, naturalness, as well as other nutritional factors, also influenced purchase decisions. Some consumers believe low fat claims encourage over consumption of foods. CONCLUSIONS: Changes to regulations governing nutrition claims on food labels should be made to enhance their credibility and support their role in assisting consumers to make healthier food choices.