We tested the efficacy of rifabutin and ethambutol in combination in healing severe recurrent Crohn's disease in the neoterminal ileum. Sixteen patients who had undergone an ileal resection with partial colectomy and ileocolonic anastomosis and who had severe recurrent lesions in the neoterminal ileum at baseline ileocolonoscopy were included in the study. The patients received rifabutin in a dose of 5 mg/kg together with ethambutol, 20 mg/kg. Ten patients were treated for 6 months; six patients dropped out because of adverse events. As no effect was observed after 6 months, five patients completed a 12-month therapy course. Follow-up ileocolonoscopy was performed at 3, 6, and 12 months. In none of the 10 patients who completed the 6-month trial and in none of the five patients who completed 12 months of therapy was endoscopic improvement of the lesions observed. In four patients the disease was clinically progressive, and two patients underwent a reresection after 6 and 8 months, respectively. This study shows that long-term therapy with rifabutin and ethambutol does not heal Crohn's disease in the neoterminal ileum and does not prevent recurrence of symptoms and complications.