The components of calcium and magnesium balance and the factors responsible for the maintenance of the serum concentration of these cations are reviewed. Within this framework, the causes and treatment of disturbances of the serum concentration are discussed. Hypercalcemia is usually a reflection of increased bone resorption and/or gut absorption with the kidney playing a secondary role. Hypocalcemia is usually due to either a disturbance in the parathyroid hormone-adenylate cyclase system or a disturbance in vitamin D metabolism. As vitamin D is required for expression of the action of PTH at bone and as PTH is a prime regulator of vitamin D metabolism, the absence of either component results in important disturbances in calcium balance. In contrast to calcium homeostasis, the kidney plays a major role in the determination and regulation of serum magnesium. The major causes of hypermagnesemia therefore are associated with loss of renal function, and hypomagnesemia is frequently due to renal magnesium wasting.