Pharmacotherapy of acromegaly has been improved in recent years as new long-acting somatostatin analogs have became available; they have been suggested as an alternative treatment to pituitary surgery and radiotherapy. To avoid the inconvenience of multiple daily injections during long-term therapy, a slow release formulation of lanreotide (LAN), to be administered im at a dose of 30 mg every 7-14 days, has been introduced in the therapeutic management. The suppressive effects of a short-term LAN treatment on GH and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) hypersecretion were shown to be similar to those obtained with sc octreotide. However, scant data have been reported concerning a long-term treatment with this drug. In the present study the efficacy and tolerability of a 24-month LAN treatment were evaluated in 118 active acromegalic patients; 71 had been previously operated on and treated with s.c. octreotide (operated patients), 24 previously operated on had been irradiated and treated with s.c. octreotide (irradiated patients), and the remaining 23 were newly diagnosed (de novo patients). The efficacy was considered on the basis of controlled GH (fasting, <7.5 mU/L; glucose-suppressed, <3.0 mU/L) and IGF-I (age-adjusted normal values) secretion. In the 118 patients as a whole, circulating GH and IGF-I levels were significantly decreased during the 24-month LAN treatment (P < 0.0005 at all time points vs. basal value). After 24 months of therapy, controlled GH and IGF-I levels were achieved in 64%, 37%, and 78% and in 51%, 37%, and 70% of operated, irradiated, and de novo patients, respectively. A reduction in tumor size was documented in 5 of 23 de novo patients (22%). Among the 84 operated/irradiated with evident tumor remnant, significant shrinkage was documented in 5 patients (5.9%). Treatment was well tolerated by the majority of patients. Only 2 patients (1.7%) withdrew from LAN treatment due to severe side effects. In conclusion, a 24-month treatment with slow release lanreotide (30 mg) is effective in reducing GH and IGF-I levels; furthermore, in de novo patients it induces disease control in 70% of patients and causes tumor shrinkage in 22% of them, with excellent compliance. These data suggest that LAN can be used in long-term treatment of acromegalic patients.