We investigated the vitamin D status of a Caucasian elderly population in a long-term-care facility in Boston. Comparison was made with a group of free-living elderly people. The sunlight exposure of residents was monitored and its effect on the serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] was compared with contributions from diet and multivitamins. Seasonal changes in serum 25(OH)D concentrations caused by sunlight exposure were greatest in the free-living subjects and declined in magnitude as the mobility of the volunteers decreased. Diet failed to provide an adequate amount of vitamin D for volunteers who had minimal outdoor activity. Use of a multivitamin supplement containing 10 micrograms (400 IU) vitamin D maintained serum 25(OH)D concentrations greater than 37.5 nmol/L.