This study was undertaken to determine whether measurements of serum total homocysteine (Hcys) and bound B12 absorption are useful in determining which patients with low- or low-normal levels of serum B12 are B12 deficient. In 40 patients with low or borderline serum levels of B12, food-bound B12 absorptions were determined using a body counter in an iron room, and were related to serum total Hcys levels. Food-bound B12 absorption was decreased in 16 patients and in an additional four, absorption of the free vitamin was also decreased. Homocysteine levels were elevated in four of the 16; in three of the four who had both decreased bound and free B12 absorptions, Hcys was elevated. If elevation of the Hcys level indicates tissue deficiency of B12, the 75% incidence of normal levels of Hcys in these patients with low food-bound B12 absorptions suggests the existence of a cohort of patients who may be at risk to develop, but have not yet developed, B12 deficiency. Only long term follow-up will reveal how many ultimately will become B12 deficient.