The Powerbreathe is an inspiratory muscle trainer promoted as improving inspiratory muscle strength (and consequently exercise performance) in athletes and patients with respiratory disease. No published evidence supports its efficacy. We performed a prospective randomized controlled study in which 12 normal subjects received either Powerbreathe training or sham training for a 6-week period. The primary outcome measure was diaphragm strength evaluated as twitch transdiaphragmatic pressure (Tw Pdi) but secondary outcome measures were provided by full respiratory muscle assessment and cardiopulmonary exercise testing. An advantage to training was observed when outcome was assessed by maximal static inspiratory mouth pressure (mean advantage 14.5 cm H2O, 95% CI 2.2-26.9 cm H2O, P=0.025). However. no significant difference was observed between the groups in any other parameter. In particular the deltaTw Pdi was not different between groups (mean 'advantage' 0.7 cmH2O, 95% CI- 7.0+/-5.5 cmH2O, P=0.8). The continued sale and use of the Powerbreathe device is not justified by our data. A sample size calculation showed that 234 subjects would need to be randomized to definitively refute the hypothesis that Powerbreathe improves Tw Pdi and we argue that such a study is required.