A randomised, phase I/II, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was designed to assess the effect of topically applied recombinant human BB homodimeric platelet-derived growth factor (rPDGF-BB) on healing of chronic pressure ulcers. Twenty patients were randomly allocated daily treatment for 28 days with 1, 10, or 100 micrograms/ml rPDGF-BB (0.01, 0.1, or 1.0 micrograms per cm2 ulcer area) or placebo. Patients treated with 100 micrograms/ml rPDGF-BB showed a greater healing response than the placebo group, but the lower doses had little effect. After 28 days, ulcers treated with 100 micrograms/ml rPDGF-BB were smaller than those treated with placebo (mean [SE] volume 6.4 [4.0] vs 21.8 [5.6]% of day 0 volume). There were no toxic effects. These preliminary findings suggest that rPDGF-BB is a potent wound-healing agent in soft tissue.