The concentration of homocysteine (Hcy) rises rapidly after the collection of blood. This feature requires blood to be collected into the anticoagulants EDTA or heparin and the plasma to then be immediately separated; alternatively, the blood may be kept on ice and centrifuged within 1 hour. The use of chemical preservatives has been proposed as a means of stabilising Hcy levels in whole blood after collection. The objective of this study was to determine whether the commonly available fluoride-oxalate (Fl-Ox) and sodium citrate (Na-Cit) containers could stabilise Hcy levels in blood. Our results showed that when blood was collected into potassium EDTA (K-EDTA) tubes, Hcy levels rose from initial levels, on standing at room temperature (approximately 25 degrees C), by an average of 21% after 3 hours and 32% after 5 hours. The initial Hcy levels of blood collected into Fl-Ox and Na-Cit containers, however, were lower, at averages of 89% and 91%, respectively, compared to that of the same samples when collected into K-EDTA tubes. Hcy in these samples subsequently rose on standing, and after 5 hours was, on the average, 10 and 13% higher, respectively, compared with the initial levels in K-EDTA tubes. We conclude that Fl-Ox and Na-Cit do not stabilise Hcy in blood after collection and should not be used as preservatives.