Abstract The dietary intake of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) of local residents from 2 major electronic waste (e-waste) processing sites (Guiyu, Guangdong Province and Taizhou, Zhejiang Province) in China was investigated. Seventy-four food items were collected from these sites, divided into 9 food groups (freshwater fish, marine fish, shellfish, pork, poultry, chicken offal, egg, vegetables and cereals), and examined for residual PBDE concentrations. Out of all food items examined, the freshwater bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis) contained extremely high (11,400±254ng/g wet wt.) concentrations of PBDE, the highest concentrations amongst published data concerning PBDE detected in freshwater fish. Food consumption data obtained through semi-quantitative food intake questionnaires showed that Guiyu residents had a PBDE dietary intake of 931±772ng/kg bw/day, of which BDE-47 (584ng/kg bw/day) exceeded the US EPA's reference dose (100ng/kg/day). Taizhou (44.7±26.3ng/kg bw/day) and Lin'an (1.94±0.86ng/kg bw/day) residents exhibited lower readings. The main dietary source of PBDEs in Guiyu and Taizhou residents was seafood (88–98%) and pork (41%) in Lin'an. The present results indicated that health risks arising from PBDE dietary exposure are of significance in terms of public health and food safety to local residents of e-waste processing sites.