Previous observations have shown that oral administration of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) without dietary prescriptions causes anorexia, decreased food intake, and weight loss in obese subjects. To confirm these data over a longer period of observation and to verify whether adherence to dietary restriction could be improved by 5-HTP, 20 obese patients were randomly assigned to receive either 5-HTP (900 mg/d) or a placebo. The study was double-blinded and was for two consecutive 6-wk periods. No diet was prescribed during the first period, a 5040-kJ/d diet was recommended for the second. Significant weight loss was observed in 5-HTP-treated patients during both periods. A reduction in carbohydrate intake and a consistent presence of early satiety were also found. These findings together with the good tolerance observed suggest that 5-HTP may be safely used to treat obesity.