Cross-cultural studies can provide important data on the influence of cultural factors in the growth and control of eating disorders and their symptoms. If, moreover, those studies deal with the same language but different contexts, the comparison may be richer and the knowledge derived more significant. The main aim of the present study is to identify the prevalence of eating disorder and body dissatisfaction symptoms, as well as the factors which may influence them, in two samples of first-year female university students from the UAB (Spain) and the UNAM (Mexico). The results of this study show more eating disorder symptoms and body dissatisfaction in Spain than in Mexico and also that the level of perfectionism is much higher among the Mexican students. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.