Plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) and serum folate (FA) concentrations were measured in 130 epileptic patients taking anticonvulsant drugs. A significant inverse correlation was found between FA and tHcy. This was greater in the older group (> or = 15 years) than in the younger group (1 to 14 years). There were four FA-deficient patients (FA concentration < 3 ng/mL regardless of symptoms), including three patients in the older group and one in the younger group. All FA-deficient patients had received long-term treatment (> 7 years) with multiple anticonvulsants. Their tHcy levels were higher than the 90th percentile of those in control subjects. Two patients showed extremely high levels of tHcy (57.9 and 29.1 mumol/L) and subnormal plasma methionine levels. After FA therapy, their tHcy decreased to levels the same as or less than those of control subjects and FA increased to above the normal range. Based on these findings, we conclude that measuring FA and tHcy concentrations may be useful for preventing thrombosis due to hyperhomocysteinemia in epileptic patients taking anticonvulsants, particularly those who receive long-term treatment with multiple agents.