The present systematic review examined the relationship between nutrition knowledge and dietary intake in adults (mean age ≥ 18 years). Relevant databases were searched from the earliest record until November 2012. Search terms included: nutrition; diet or food knowledge and energy intake; feeding behaviour; diet; eating; nutrient or food intake or consumption. Included studies were original research articles that used instruments providing quantitative assessment of both nutrition knowledge and dietary intake and their statistical association. The initial search netted 1 193 393 potentially relevant articles, of which twenty-nine were eligible for inclusion. Most of them were conducted in community populations (n 22) with fewer (n 7) in athletic populations. Due to the heterogeneity of methods used to assess nutrition knowledge and dietary intake, a meta-analysis was not possible. The majority of the studies (65·5 %: community 63·6 %; athletic 71·4 %) reported significant, positive, but weak (r< 0·5) associations between higher nutrition knowledge and dietary intake, most often a higher intake of fruit and vegetables. However, study quality ranged widely and participant representation from lower socio-economic status was limited, with most participants being tertiary educated and female. Well-designed studies using validated methodologies are needed to clarify the relationship between nutrition knowledge and dietary intake. Diet quality scores or indices that aim to evaluate compliance to dietary guidelines may be particularly valuable for assessing the relationship between nutrition knowledge and dietary intake. Nutrition knowledge is an integral component of health literacy and as low health literacy is associated with poor health outcomes, contemporary, high-quality research is needed to inform community nutrition education and public health policy.