This review provides a brief description of folate use and folic acid metabolism in relation to neural tube defect (NTD) risk. First, a meta-analysis of reduction in NTD recurrence and occurrence risk with periconceptional folic acid supplementation is presented. Second, an overview of the complex folate metabolism is given. Third, SNPs for genes involved in folate and homocysteine metabolism that have been studied in relation to NTD riskare discussed. Fourth, the questions whether folate receptor autoantibodies or hampered methylation are mechanisms underlying NTDs are briefly discussed. Birth Defects Research (Part A), 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.