Although the carbonic anhydrase inhibitors have been used in the treatment of the primary periodic paralyses (PPs), their efficacy has not been demonstrated in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Therefore, we tested the efficacy of dichlorphenamide (DCP; Daranide), a potent carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, in the treatment of episodic weakness in the primary PPs. We performed two multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trials, one involving 42 subjects with hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HypoPP) and the other involving 31 subjects with potassium-sensitive periodic paralysis (PSPP). In each trial, two 8-week treatment periods were separated by an active washout period of at least 9 weeks. The primary outcome variable in the HypoPP trial was the occurrence of an intolerable increase in attack severity or frequency (end point). The primary outcome variable in the PSPP trial was the number of attacks per week. In the HypoPP trial, there were 13 subjects who exhibited a preference (in terms of the end point) for either DCP or placebo, and 11 of these preferred DCP. In the PSPP trial, DCP significantly reduced attack rates relative to placebo. DCP also significantly reduced attack rates relative to placebo in the HypoPP subjects. We conclude that DCP is effective in the prevention of episodic weakness in both HypoPP and PSPP.