This article gives an overview over common physiological, lifestyle, and pathological conditions that may modulate the homocysteine status. The interplay of several environmental factors, including age, gender, nutrition, smoking, and coffee consumption and physical activity with commonly used drugs and prevalent diseases are described. In most cases, an abnormal homocysteine status is not caused by a single factor alone but often is the result of combined effects. We address these frequently found "clusters" of homocysteine-modulating factors. Finally, we give an overview of likely causes of hyperhomocysteinemia found in an authentic material. This material is based on 2462 routine measurements of plasma total homocysteine carried out at the Haukeland University Hospital. The data represent the total number of combined homocysteine and methylmalonic acid determinations, requested by general practitioners in Norway during February 1998.