Objective There have been few studies investigating the risk factors for bulimia nervosa (BN), and most have been in Anglo-Saxon countries. This study aimed to (i) replicate the uncontested retrospective correlates for BN and clarify the role of factors with inconsistent findings and (ii) evaluate the strength of these factors in a different culture. Method A case-control design was used to compare 60 women who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria for BN to 60 healthy controls and 60 participants with other psychiatric disorders. Retrospective correlates were assessed by interviewing each person with the Oxford Risk Factor Interview. Results The primary retrospective correlates identified from the comparison of BN participants to healthy controls were general high maternal expectations, negative attitudes about parental weight and obesity in childhood and adolescence. Compared with participants with other psychiatric disorders, those with BN also reported higher rates of childhood obesity, deliberate self-harm, family conflicts, general high maternal expectations and feeling fat in childhood. Conclusions The common findings across cultures suggest that, at least, individuals subjectively experience a number of similar factors that increase risk for developing BN. In addition, the difference regarding self-harm is notable.