The effect of ascorbate deficiency on carnitine biosynthesis was investigated in young male guinea pigs. Liver and skeletal muscle carnitine levels were reduced in scorbutic animals. Heart and kidney concentrations remained unchanged. 14C-labeled 4-N-trimethylaminobutyrate was administered to control, pair-fed and scorbutic animals and distribution of isotope in compound present in the liver after 30 min was determined. Control and pair-fed animals converted trimethylaminobutyrate to carnitine faster than scorbutic animals. Injection of ascorbate with the [14C]trimethylaminobutyrate reversed the decline in trimethylaminobutyrate hydroxylase (EC 184.108.40.206) activity in scorbutic animals.