Data about folate intake and blood values of the German population, published between 1997 and 2000, have been reviewed. Median folate intake is about 250 micrograms/day in the adult population, which indicates a high likelihood of inadequate intake when compared to the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of 320 micrograms/day. Only a few studies have evaluated serum and erythrocyte folate or plasma homocysteine as a marker of folate status. The most representative data show that 25% of German women of childbearing age have an inadequate recent folate intake. Only 13.3% of the women have red blood cell folate values above the critical value of 400 micrograms/day established by Daly et al (1995). Folic acid fortification of food is shown to be responsible for about 25% of folate intake in the German child and adolescent population in one study. If we extrapolate these data to the general population, folic acid fortification could be the explanation for the differences observed between folate intake and blood values. The discrepancy might also be explained by slight inaccuracies in food composition tables. Folate intake from fortified food or from supplements is not taken into account in most of the studies, which is a variable that can lead to confusion. Nutrition surveys should adapt official composition tables for local food patterns, and include fortified commercial foods, in order to make folate intake data more accurate. However, representative serum and erythrocyte folate values are lacking for most age groups. Before taking public health measures concerning folate fortification of food, the real folate status of the German population should be established.