Although latex remains the primary material for male condoms, a number of condoms made from synthetic materials have appeared in commercial markets in recent years. Published data on the safety and efficacy of these condoms is still limited, but nevertheless synthetic condoms do offer the user a wider choice and may encourage greater use of condoms for contraception and sexual transmitted infection prophylaxis. This paper reports on a study carried out in the Paris region of France on a new, commercial polyurethane condom marketed in Japan as Sagami Original and in Europe as Protex Original. A standard latex condom complying with the European standard for condoms (EN 600:1996) from the same manufacturer was used as the control in the study. The clinical breakage rate for the polyurethane condom was 0.6% (95% confidence interval 0.2-1.4%) compared to 1.3% (95% confidence interval 0.6-2.2%) for the latex condom. The difference was not statistically significant (chi(2) = 1.9, p = 0.168). Clinically significant slippage (complete slippage of the condom off the penis) was 1.1% (95% confidence interval 0.5-1.9%) for the polyurethane condom, compared to 0.5% (95% confidence interval 0.2-1.2%) for the latex; a difference that again was not statistically significant (chi(2) = 1.783, p = 0.182). The polyurethane condom was therefore equivalent to the latex condom in terms of clinical failure rate.