Objectives: The introduction of voluntary fortification of some foods with folic acid in Australia has been implemented since evidence of the prevention of neural tube defects with periconceptional folic acid was published. Our objectives were to determine how many women were aware of folate and when they became aware, what was the awareness of labels on foods that mentioned folate, and how much folate-fortified food women ate.Methods: To address these objectives we collected data by self-administered questionnaire from a random sample of 578 recently pregnant women in Western Australia between September 1997 and March 2000.Results: Overall, 89% of women had heard, seen or read anything about the link between folate and birth defects such as spina bifida, 62% first became aware of the folate message before their recent pregnancy and 42% of women noticed any labels on foods that mention folate before or during their recent pregnancy. Overall, 53% of women were aware of foods that have folate added to them and 33% usually or always read the Libels on food packaging. The folate-fortified foods most often consumed by women were cereals (69%), breads (34%) and milk (15%). Of the women who consumed folate-fortified foods (78%), the earlier they became aware of the folate message and noticed labels on food, the more fortified foods they consumed.Conclusions: These results indicate that staple foods fortified with folate are consumed by almost 80% of women in the population. Therefore, mandatory fortification of staple foods may reach most women, providing improved opportunity for the prevention of neural tube defects in Australia.