Populations at high latitudes experience several winter months with insufficient UV solar radiation to induce a significant cutaneous production of vitamin D. This unique study was designed to pursue an in vivo threshold of UV radiation needed for cutaneous production of vitamin D to take place if only the face was exposed to UV radiation. The vitamin D status were measured by analyzing blood samples weekly from a study group of 15 subjects over a period of 2 months during late winter, when UV radiation can be expected to increase substantially from rising solar elevations. Statistical analysis showed no significant positive association between the mean UV radiation dose and the mean 25(OH)D (25-hydroxy vitamin D) for the group. On an individual basis, however, we found indications that subjects with very low initial concentration of 25(OH)D (<30 nmol l(-1)) seemed to respond to UV radiation as early as in the beginning of March. For other individuals diet seemed to be the dominant controlling factor for 25(OH)D levels.