Folate binding protein 1 (Folr1) knockout mice with low maternal folate concentrations have been shown to be excellent animal models for human folate-responsive neural tube defects (NTDs). Previous studies using the Folr1 knockout mice revealed that maternal folate supplementation up-regulates the expression of the PCMT1 gene in Folr1 nullizygous neural tube tissue during neural tube closure. PCMT1 encodes the protein repair enzyme l-isoaspartate (d-aspartate) O-methyltransferase (PIMT) that converts abnormal d-aspartyl and l-isoaspartyl residues to the normal l-aspartyl form. PIMT is known to protect certain neural cells from Bax-induced apoptosis. Pcmt1-deficient mice present with abnormal AdoMet/AdoHcy homeostasis. We hypothesized that a known functional polymorphism (Ile120Val) in the human PCMT1 gene is associated with an increased risk of folate-responsive human NTDs. A case-control study was conducted to investigate a possible association between this polymorphism and risk of spina bifida. Compared to the Ile/Ile and Ile/Val genotypes, the homozygous Val/Val genotype showed decreased risk for spina bifida (adjusted odds ratio=0.6, 95% confidence interval: 0.4-0.9). Our results showed that the Ile120Val polymorphism of PCMT1 gene is a genetic modifier for the risk of spina bifida. Val/Val genotype was associated with a reduction in risk for spina bifida.