Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world. Current surgical and pharmacological interventions are essentially palliative and interest in preventive strategies, particularly through nutrition and avoidance of tobacco has increased in recent years. Basic scientific, clinical and epidemiological evidence indicates a positive association between the plasma level of the amino acid homocysteine and vascular disease. Homocysteine levels are inversely related to both intake and plasma levels of folate. Less strong evidence indicates an inverse relationship between folate intake and coronary heart disease risk. It is likely that current estimates of dietary folate requirements are lower than optimal. Folic acid supplementation reliably reduces homocysteine levels, and may also modify endothelial function independent of this effect on homocysteine. Such treatment is cheap and appears to be essentially free of risk. However, until present randomised control trials are complete, it will not be known definitively whether or not increasing folate intake reduces cardiovascular risk.