Vitamin B12 content (98.8 +/- 5.6 microg/100 g dry weight) of an edible cyanobacterium, Nostoc commune (Ishikurage) was determined by the Lactobacillus delbrueckii ATCC 7830 microbiological method. Bioautography with vitamin B12-dependent Escherichia coli 215 indicated that N. commune contained two (main and minor) corrinoid-compounds. These corrinoid-compounds were purified to homogeneity from the dried algal cells and characterized. The main and minor purified corrinoid-compounds were identified as pseudovitamin B12 and vitamin B12, respectively, on the basis of silica gel 60 TLC, C18 reversed-phase HPLC, 1H NMR spectroscopy, and UV-visible spectroscopy. These results suggest that the bacterial cells are not suitable for use as a vitamin B12 source, especially in vegetarians.