Self-administered surveys of low-income subjects (n=796)recruited at food programs, grocery stores, and other public places in four Minnesota study communities were designed to examine definitions of healthful food and to identify motivations, barriers, and promoters of healthful eating. Fruits and vegetables were most often given as definitions of healthful eating, regardless of income, race, or sex. Subjects said they eat healthfully primarily for health, weight, and family concerns. Almost half of subjects indicated that time was a barrier to healthful eating, and more than one-third cited money concerns. Half of the top promoters of healthful eating included federal or local food assistance programs. Family was the most common promoter. Identification of perceptions, barriers, and promoters of healthful eating for low-income and minority populations may be useful for tailored intervention planning. Specifically, family-based interventions and food assistance programs may be more successful in promoting healthful eating for selected segments of the population.