In a group of 13 strict vegetarian and 6 omnivorous lactating women, relationships were studied among maternal milk and serum vitamin B-12, and milk vitamin B-12 and infant urinary methylmalonic acid (MMA) excretion. Milk vitamin B-12 concentrations were lower in women consuming a strict vegetarian diet compared with an omnivorous diet. Milk vitamin B-12 was inversely related to length of time on a vegetarian diet and positively correlated with maternal serum vitamin B-12 concentrations. Infant urinary MMA excretion was inversely related to milk vitamin B-12 concentrations less than 362 pmol/L. The 1989 recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B-12 of 221 pmol/d for infants is close to the intake below which infant urinary MMA excretion is increased. We conclude that the current RDA for infants provides little margin of safety.