Moderately elevated homocysteine concentrations, reflecting deficiency of some nutritional factors required for homocysteine metabolism (folate, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12) and/or less severe genetic defects, are common in the general population. Several studies have indicated the role of homocysteine as an independent risk factor for vascular disease. A pilot study published recently suggested that plasma homocysteine levels increase during weight reduction in slightly overweight, otherwise healthy subjects (group A). We examined a comparable group of 13 overweight subjects (group B) using a standardised caloric intake and defined vitamin supplementation (Medyn: folate 0.2 mg/ vitamin B-68.0 mg/ vitamin B-120.010 mg three times the day orally) to determine the effect of weight reduction on serum homocysteine levels and to compare the results with those of the pilot study. Mean body weight declined from 87.0 +/- 20.2 to 84.2 +/- 20.1 kg (P < 0.05) in group A and 85.7 +/- 11.3 to 82.5 +/- 9.9 kg (P = 0.049) in group B. Serum homocysteine levels rose from 7.9 +/- 2.0 to 8.7 +/- 2.3 mumol/l (P < 0.0001) in group A and decreased from 8.19 +/- 1.73 to 7.35 +/- 0.88 mumol/l (P = 0.0022) in group B. No correlation was found between the changes in body weight and in homocysteine levels (r = 0.02 in group A, r = 0.18 in group B). Additionally, no correlation was found between serum folate levels and changes in homocysteine levels (r = 0.03 in group A, r = 0.09 in group B). The results suggest that an adequate oral vitamin-supplementation protects against increased homocysteine production during weight reduction.