A summary of new findings regarding alterations of magnesium (Mg2+) and phosphorus (P) metabolism are reviewed for the clinician caring for patients in general wards. Alterations in serum concentrations of Mg2+ and P are frequently observed in acute or very ill patients in emergency rooms or intensive-care areas. A significant proportion of these alterations are iatrogenic. Most of the symptoms related are non-specific, and usually they are associated with changes in concentration of other ions. The need to measure Mg2+ and P routinely and to define better the real abnormal values is stressed. Correction of the abnormalities must be early in the course of the alterations.