Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) causes morbidity and is associated with mortality. B vitamin intake has been inversely associated with coronary heart disease, but their effects on PAD are not known. We examined prospectively the relationships between dietary folate, vitamin B-6 and B-12 and PAD risk in 51529 male U.S. health professionals, aged 40 to 75 y, who answered a detailed 131-item questionnaire to assess diet and vitamin supplement use. The study population consisted of 46036 men free of PAD, cardiovascular disease and diabetes at baseline followed for 12 y during which we documented 308 incident PAD cases. For every 400 microg/d increment of folate intake, the multivariate adjusted PAD risk decreased by 21% [relative risk (RR) = 0.79, 95% CI 0.64-0.96]. Men in the top category of folate intake (median = 840 micro g) were at 33% lower risk of PAD than men in the bottom category (median = 244 microg) (RR = 0.67, 95% CI 0.45-0.96, P-value, test for trend = 0.03) after multivariate adjustment. There were weak inverse associations between intake of vitamin B-6 and PAD risk (RR = 0.70, 95% CI 0.48-1.02, P-value, test for trend = 0.06) and B-12 (RR = 0.77, 95% CI 0.54-1.11, P-value, test for trend = 0.12). These results suggest that higher consumption of folate may contribute to the prevention of PAD.