A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial was carried out with the aim of proving efficacy of standardized balm mint cream [active ingredient: 1% Lo-701--dried extract from Melissa officinalis L. leaves (70:1)] for the therapy of herpes simplex labialis. Sixty six patients with a history of recurrent herpes labialis (at least four episodes per year) in one center were treated topically; 34 of them with verum and 32 with placebo. The cream had to be smeared on the affected area four times daily over five days. A combined symptom score of the values for complaints, size of affected area and blisters at day 2 of therapy was formed as the primary target parameter. There was a significant difference in the values of the primary target parameter between both treatment groups: verum 4.03 +/- 0.33 (3.0); placebo 4.94 +/- 0.40 (5.0); values given are mean +/- SEM (median) of the symptoms score on day 2 of therapy. The tested formulation is effective for the treatment of herpes simplex labialis. The significant difference in the combined symptom score on the second day of treatment is of particular importance having in mind that the complaints in patients suffering from herpes labialis are usually most intensive at that time. In addition to the shortening of the healing period, the prevention of a spreading of the infection and the rapid effect on typical symptoms of herpes like itching, tingling, burning, stabbing, swelling, tautness and erythema, the balm mint cream has a further advantage. The different mechanism of action of the balm mint extract rules out the development of resistance of the herpes virus. Some indication exists that the intervals between the periods with herpes might be prolonged with balm mint cream treatment.