Periconceptional folic acid supplementation is recommended to prevent congenital malformations, mainly neural tube defects, but only 7% of pregnant women in Saxony-Anhalt (Germany) take folic acid at least 4 weeks before conception and in the first 3 months of pregnancy. From March to June 2004, we sent standardized questionnaires about folic acid and its importance during pregnancy to 33 schools in the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt. A total of 4332 young people aged 1521 years completed the questionnaire, of which 2632 were girls (61%) and 1685 were boys (39%). The majority of them (61%) had heard about folic acid, but only 5% knew that it is a vitamin and 0.7% were aware of the physiological functions of folic acid. Only 22% of the young people answered that folic acid should be taken before and during pregnancy, whereas almost all respondents knew other precautions during pregnancy, e.g. 'no smoking' and 'no alcohol'. Our survey shows that the level of awareness of the importance of folic acid at schools is very low. We suggest that the problem of folic acid should be included in the curricula of biology classes at schools to spread the knowledge of this subject among young people.