The selenium content in fruit and vegetable samples from two regions in Portugal were analysed using hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry (HG-AFS) and radiochemical nuclear activation analysis (RNAA) - two analytical methods with very low limits of detection. The lower detection limits of HG-AFS, 3 mu g kg(-1) and 8 mu g kg(-1) (according to conditions used for digestion), and for RNAA, 10 mu g kg(-1), meant that it was possible to determine selenium in samples previously analysed using the replicate sample instrumental nuclear activation analysis (RSINAA) with a higher detection limit associated. The results obtained with the HG-AFS method were similar to those obtained using either RNAA or RSINAA, although in the case of RSINAA significant differences were found in three samples. The good accuracy and increased sample throughput, together with the relatively lower equipment and operating costs make HG-AFS the optimum of the three methods for determining trace amounts of selenium. Values obtained by HG-AFS were from 0.03 mu g in tomato to 3.1 mu g in cabbage (100 g fresh weight). Based on our results, the contribution of the analysed vegetables and fruits to the daily selenium intake was 1.80 mu g per person per day for the Portuguese population. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.