A 13-item questionnaire designed for quick telephone administration was evaluated for use in surveillance of fat intake in the United States. Study populations included 560 middle-aged and older adults from Beaver Dam, WI, 252 middle-aged and older women from Wisconsin, 73 young, low income Hispanic women from Chicago, IL, 52 older adults from Arizona and 135 younger adults from Augusta, GA. Correlations between fat scores and fat intakes measured by multiple food records or recalls or by more extensive food frequency questionnaires ranged from 0.33 to 0.60, similar to results from other published questionnaire validation studies. Correlations with percentage of energy from fat were lower (0.26 to 0.42), except for the Chicago population, for which there was no correlation (-0.02). There was no systematic variation in correlations among other subgroups defined by demographic and health-related characteristics, including race (black vs. white). Most, but not all, of the substantial differences in fat intakes among subgroups were identified by the questionnaire. The questionnaire will not capture small differences in intakes among groups and is inappropriate when the sample size is limited or for populations with diets substantially different from the typical U.S. diets, such as the Chicago population. However, with attention to its limitations, the questionnaire is useful for surveillance.