We have observed significantly lower kinetic parameters (KM and Vmax) for methionine adenosyltransferase activity in erythrocytes obtained from early onset schizophrenics when compared to samples from normal subjects. These differences are apparently not due to differences in S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) utilization. These results offer an explanation for the conflicting reports of previous investigators and support the concept that undermethylation may characterize some forms of schizophrenia. Methylation is involved in multiple aspects of metabolism and although similar differences in the MAT enzyme in the brain have not been reported, such a deficit could have profound effects on the nervous system. Decreased availability of SAM could decrease catecholamine metabolism or rates of phospholipid methylation.