Ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid penetrate the human erythrocyte membrane. In vitro methemoglobin is reduced nonenzymatically by both substances in concentrations of 10(-2) M to 10(-3) M. Dehydroascorbic acid is reduced nonenzymatically to ascorbic acid by GSH, even with low GSH-content of erythrocytes. Under physiological conditions ascorbic acid induced methemoglobin reduction is far less important than reduction by the NADH dependent methemoglobin reductase system. In methemoglobinemic conditions caused by toxic effects or by congenital methemoglobin reductase deficiency treatment with ascorbic acid is possible. However, critically increased methemoglobin content of the blood higher than 30% makes therapy with methylene blue necessary.