Many countries in Africa are now confronted with the dilemma of shifting drug policies for uncomplicated falciparum malaria from chloroquine, which has become largely ineffective, to a new first-line drug and amodiaquine is one of the possible options. A multicentre, open-label randomized controlled trial of amodiaquine 30 mg/kg vs chloroquine 25 mg/kg over 3 days was performed in Senegal, Cameroon, Gabon, and Burkina Faso between 1996 and 1998 and patients were followed-up for 14 days. Sensitivity of isolates in vitro and whole blood levels of chloroquine and amodiaquine were also measured. The primary efficacy parameter was parasitological clearance on day 14 (parasitological success). The secondary efficacy parameter was absence of signs/symptoms of malaria on day 14 (clinical success). Among the 364 patients randomized and receiving the assigned treatment (chloroquine n = 185, amodiaquine n = 179), 137 and 139, respectively, reached the primary endpoint. Amodiaquine proved significantly more effective than chloroquine. The summary odds ratio (95% CI) was 7.79 (4.54-13.35) for parasitological success, and 6.3 (3.4-11.68) for clinical success. Sensitivity in vitro and chloroquine blood levels were good predictors of chloroquine failure. Amodiaquine remains effective for treating uncomplicated falciparum malaria in areas of West and Central Africa where chloroquine resistance is prevalent. However, measures should be taken to protect the lifespan of amodiaquine where the drug is introduced for use.