Patient records from January 1975 to December 1984 were analysed to assess the possible incidence of protein-bound vitamin B12 malabsorption. This condition is characterised by a low serum vitamin B12 level and a normal Schilling test but impaired absorption of vitamin B12 bound to protein. We found that 48 (25%) patients with a low serum cobalamin level unexplained by other causes had a normal Schilling test. Megaloblastic haemopoiesis was found in 25 of these. From this group, all 10 patients who had a test of protein-bound vitamin B12 absorption showed impaired absorption. Protein-bound vitamin B12 malabsorption may represent an early phase of pernicious anaemia when hypochlorhydria precedes intrinsic factor deficiency and should be tested for when the serum vitamin B12 level is decreased and the Schilling test is normal.