1. The serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D were measured in 44 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism.
2. In 14 patients the serum concentration of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D was greater than normal (142–337 pmol/l). One patient had a subnormal concentration of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (36 pmol/l) but no other evidence of vitamin D deficiency.
3. The possible biological determinants of the serum concentration of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D were sought by multivariate analysis of relevant variables. The serum concentration of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D was found to be significantly and positively correlated with the serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (P < 0.001) and parathyroid hormone (P < 0.003), and with the glomerular filtration rate (P < 0.03), and negatively correlated with the serum concentrations of calcium (P < 0.02) and phosphate (P = 0.055) (multiple R = 0.638,P < 0.002).
4. In primary hyperparathyroidism the major determinant of serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is the availability of precursor 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
5. The finding that serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is commonly normal in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism despite an adequate state of vitamin D nutrition, can be explained in terms of the constraining influences of hypercalcaemia and variable degrees of renal dysfunction on the biosynthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.