PIP: This monograph on the clinical chemistry of vitamin B12 reviews the literature on daily requirements, methods for measurement, the effects of drugs on vitamin B12 metabolism absorption, pregnancy, clinical conditions associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, errors of metabolism, and reactions to vitamin therapy. Although only very small quantities of vitamin B12 are required to satisfy the daily requirement, a sufficient supply is stored in the liver to meet normal requirements for at least a 3-year period. A number of drugs are known to affect the absorption of vitamin B12, including neomycin, potassium chloride, p-aminosalicylic acid, and colchicine. Significantly reduced serum concentrations of vitamin B12 have been noted in users of oral contraceptives (OCs), although concentrations still remain within the limits of normal. It appears that the vitamin B12 level in OC users reestablishes itself at a different and somewhat lower level. Vitamin B12 binding protein appears to remain unchanged. A vitamin B12 deficiency is unusual in pregnant women who consume a normal, varied diet. On the other hand, lactating women whose diets are low in animal protein and dairy products may have problems providing enough vitamin B12 to meet their own and their infant's needs; supplementary oral vitamins should be considered.