We determined the parasitological resistance and the clinical failure to chloroquine (CQ) and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) by the WHO 14-day in vivo test over three consecutive years in 948 children aged 6-59 months with uncomplicated malaria attending four health centres in the province of Houet, Burkina Faso. Children were alternatively allocated to either CQ or SP. Packed cell volume (PCV) was measured at days 0 and 14. Parasitological resistance (RI, RII and RIII) to CQ was 18% (83 of 455) and to SP <1% (two of 308). Clinical failure with CQ was 12% (53 of 455) with no evidence of increase over time. Only one case of clinical failure was detected among the children treated with SP. The prevalence of anaemia (PCV <25%) was about 40% at day 0 and had decreased substantially by day 14 in both groups. However, in children treated with SP the prevalence of anaemia at day 14 was significantly lower than in those treated with CQ:RR = 3.15 (95% CI: 1.33-7.42, P = 0.008). CQ and SP are still efficacious for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in children, at least in this area of Burkina Faso. However, the prevalences of CQ resistance reported from other areas of the country are worrying because of its potential spread. Regular surveillance of resistance to commonly used antimalarial drugs should continue.