Nitrous oxide (N2O) inactivates the vitamin B12-dependent enzyme methionine synthetase with subsequent impairment of folate metabolism and a reduction of cellular proliferation. Indications exist that this effect is antagonized by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), and it was investigated whether combination with an inhibitor of SAM synthesis, cycloleucine, would result in increased inhibition of growth in rat leukaemia model (BNML). Leukaemic growth was compared in untreated rats, in rats treated with either nitrous oxide/oxygen (1:1) or cycloleucine (50 mg kg-1 i.p.), and in rats receiving both agents. Combined treatment resulted in the strongest reduction of leukaemic infiltration in spleen and liver, and this reduction often was more than the added effects of single treatments. Peripheral leukocyte counts were also lowest after combined treatment. The deoxyuridine suppression test, measuring folate-dependent de novo synthesis of thymidine, was more severely disturbed with combined treatment. Levels of vitamin B12 in plasma were reduced in rats receiving N2O, but an increase in plasma folate occurred in all treated rats. These results indicate that a reduction of SAM synthesis by cycloleucine can increase the disturbance of folate metabolism that is caused by nitrous oxide, with a potentiation of the effects on leukaemic growth.