Introduction The ESPEN guideline presents a multidisciplinary focus on clinical nutrition in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Methodology The guideline is based on extensive systematic review of the literature, but relies on expert opinion when objective data were lacking or inconclusive. The conclusions and 64 recommendations have been subject to full peer review and a Delphi process in which uniformly positive responses (agree or strongly agree) were required. Results IBD is increasingly common and potential dietary factors in its aetiology are briefly reviewed. Malnutrition is highly prevalent in IBD – especially in Crohn's disease. Increased energy and protein requirements are observed in some patients. The management of malnutrition in IBD is considered within the general context of support for malnourished patients. Treatment of iron deficiency (parenterally if necessary) is strongly recommended. Routine provision of a special diet in IBD is not however supported. Parenteral nutrition is indicated only when enteral nutrition has failed or is impossible. The recommended perioperative management of patients with IBD undergoing surgery accords with general ESPEN guidance for patients having abdominal surgery. Probiotics may be helpful in UC but not Crohn's disease. Primary therapy using nutrition to treat IBD is not supported in ulcerative colitis, but is moderately well supported in Crohn's disease, especially in children where the adverse consequences of steroid therapy are proportionally greater. However, exclusion diets are generally not recommended and there is little evidence to support any particular formula feed when nutritional regimens are constructed. Conclusions Available objective data to guide nutritional support and primary nutritional therapy in IBD are presented as 64 recommendations, of which 9 are very strong recommendations (grade A), 22 are strong recommendations (grade B) and 12 are based only on sparse evidence (grade 0); 21 recommendations are good practice points (GPP).