Adult patients with renal failure have a high total homocysteine concentration in plasma. Hyperhomocysteinemia is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Folic acid lowers the homocysteine concentrations in plasma in hyperhomocysteinemia. Whether this results in a reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases remains to be proven by intervention studies. In the present study we investigated: (1) if homocysteine concentrations are elevated in the plasma of children with renal failure and (2) the influence of folic acid administration on the plasma homocysteine concentration. The plasma homocysteine concentration was measured in 21 children, 9 on hemodialysis and 12 on peritoneal dialysis, before and 4 weeks after treatment with 2.5 mg folic acid daily. Healthy children (234) constituted the control group. In controls the median homocysteine concentration was 9.1 micromol/l (range 4.3-20.0 micromol/l). The median plasma homocysteine concentration in patients before folic acid treatment was 20.0 micromol/l (Q1-Q3 13.7-26.0; Q, quartile). After 4 weeks of folic acid treatment the median plasma homocysteine concentration was 12.0 micromol/l [Q1-Q3 9.8-14.3 (P<0.0001 Wilcoxon signed rank test)]. There was no significant difference between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients. Children with renal failure treated with hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis have elevated plasma homocysteine concentrations, but this is significantly reduced after administration of 2.5 mg folic acid daily for 4 weeks. It is suggested that folic acid be added to the treatment of children with renal failure, although a beneficial effect still has to be proven. The required dose needs further study.