We undertook a prospective, randomised study to compare the analgesic effect of injection of steroid and of extracorporeal shock-wave therapy (ESWT) for the treatment of tennis elbow. Group 1 received a single injection of 20 mg of triamcinolone with lignocaine while group 2 received 2000 shock waves in three sessions at weekly intervals. After six weeks there was a significant difference between the groups with the mean pain score for the injection group falling from 66 to 21 compared with a decrease from 61 to 35 in the shock-wave group (p = 0.05). After three months, 84% of patients in group 1 were considered to have had successful treatment compared with 60% in group 2. In the medium term local injection of steroid is more successful and 100 times less expensive than ESWT in the treatment of tennis elbow.