The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy of the alpha-2a agonist guanfacine with that of dextroamphetamine for the treatment of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Seventeen adult outpatients who met DSM-IV criteria for ADHD participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study comparing drug effects on ADHD symptoms. Measures of change included the DSM-IV ADHD Behavior Checklist for Adults and the Copeland Symptom Checklist for Adult Attention Deficit Disorders. Cognitive measures of attention included the Stroop and Controlled Oral Word Association Test using the letters "C," "F," and "L" (COWAT, CFL version). For each trial, the drug was administered daily and titered up to optimal doses of maximum efficacy but with a minimum of side effects, and then data were collected. Both drugs significantly reduced ADHD symptoms on the DSM-IV Adult Behavior Checklist for Adults over placebo (p < 0.05). The Stroop Color subscale showed significant improvement for both drugs (p < 0.05), but the Color-Word measures showed significant improvement for guanfacine only (p < 0.01). The average dose of guanfacine was 1.10 (SD = 0.60), and the most common side effect of guanfacine was fatigue. No subjects discontinued drug trials. This preliminary study indicates that guanfacine may be a well-tolerated treatment option for adult ADHD.