The present study compares the efficacy and safety of betahistine dihydrochloride to that of a placebo in recurrent vertigo resulting from Meniere's disease (MD) or in paroxysmal positional vertigo (PPV) of probable vascular origin. The design was double-blind, multicentre and parallel-group randomised. Eleven Italian centres enrolled 144 patients: 75 of the patients were treated with betahistine (41 MD/34 PPV) and 69 with placebos (40 MD/29 PPV). The betahistine dosage was 16 mg twice per day for 3 months. Compared to the placebo, betahistine had a significant effect on the frequency, intensity and duration of vertigo attacks. Associated symptoms and the quality of life also were significantly improved by betahistine. Both the physician's judgement and the patient's opinion on the efficacy and acceptability of the treatment were in agreement as to the superiority of betahistine. The effective and safe profile of betahistine in the treatment of vertigo due to peripheral vestibular disorders was confirmed.