OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to establish the relationships between recalled paternal rearing behaviours, core beliefs and eating symptomatology and to test whether core beliefs play a mediating role between the father-daughter relationship and eating psychopathology. DESIGN: Associations between eating psychopathology, core beliefs and recalled parental rearing behaviours were examined in women with and without eating disorders. Regression analyses were used to test whether core beliefs played a mediating role in the relationship between paternal rearing behaviours and eating psychopathology. METHOD: Sixty-six eating-disordered women and fifty female controls completed three self-report questionnaires measuring parental rearing behaviours, core beliefs and eating psychopathology. RESULTS: In eating-disordered women, paternal rejection and overprotection were found to predict aspects of eating psychopathology via the mediating role of abandonment, defectiveness/shame and vulnerability to harm core beliefs. DISCUSSION: Core beliefs relating to feelings of abandonment and inherent defectiveness appear to be important in the relationship between unhealthy father-daughter relationships and eating disorder symptoms.