Two hundred rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients taking low dose methotrexate (MTX) were evaluated for adverse effects. During a mean follow up of 41.5 months, the mean cell volume (MCV) was elevated at some time during the course of treatment in 42 patients. The MCV was normal in the remaining 158 patients. One hundred ninety-eight patients were treated simultaneously with oral folic acid. With the exception of heartburn, which was seen more often in the high MCV group, there was no difference in the frequency of adverse effects attributable to MTX between groups. Severity of side effects and the frequency of MTX dose reduction and MTX discontinuation due to toxicity were also similar between groups. This analysis suggests that elevation of MCV in RA patients treated simultaneously with MTX and folate does not predict MTX toxicity. The authors also discuss the mechanism of action of MTX with regard to folate metabolism.