Severe aplastic anemia developed in a young man with an extensive family history of leukemia, pancytopenia, and neutropenia. Megaloblastic changes became evident, and treatment with high doses of folic acid resulted in striking clinical improvement. However, red-cell folate levels remained persistently low despite high serum folate levels. A defect in cellular folate uptake was suspected, and, indeed, uptake of 5-14CH3-H4-folate by stimulated lymphocytes and by bone-marrow cells from the patient was significantly reduced (P less than 0.05 as compared to normal cells. Further characterization of folate metabolism showed that intestinal absorption of the vitamin, membrane transport of 5-14CH3-H4-folate by mature red cells, folate utilization in the conversion of deoxyuridylate to thymidylate and polyglutamate formation were all normal. At least five other family members manifest decreased uptake of 5-14CH3-H4-folate by stimulated lymphocytes. These studies suggest that a genetically induced abnormality of folate uptake contributed to this patient's severe, but reversible, aplasia.