The formation of nitrite from nitrate was studied in potatoes incubated at room temperature. After 24 hours of incubation at 25 degrees, 112 ppm and 373 ppm of nitrite formed in homogenized cooked potatoes containing 284 ppm and 584 ppm of nitrate, respectively. In homogenized fresh potatoes incubated at 21 degrees and containing 284 ppm of nitrate, 103 ppm of nitrate formed within 24 hours. During the period of nitrite formation, nitrate levels decreased sharply, indicating that reduction of nitrate to nitrite occurred. Incubation at 2 degrees completely prevented nitrite formation in all cases. The formation of methylnitrosourea from added methylurea and nitrite was observed in potato incubated under simulated gastric conditions (37 degrees, pH 1.5). An ascorbate-nitrite mole ratio of 4 gave a 93% inhibition of methylnitrosourea formation. Ascorbate reacted directly with nitrite in potato incubated under identical conditions, yielding a 43% decrease in nitrite concentration. Ascorbate did not react with methylurea or the product, methylnitrosourea.