A dysfunction in the endocrine control system for inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis serves as the theoretical basis for chronic inflammation in the study design described. Eighteen patients with rheumatoid arthritis, who acted as their own controls, were brought to a minimum symptom state through conventional means, trained, and allowed to control subsequent flares by a patient-initiated, flare-response prednisone regimen. The six-month trial was double-blind with a crossover at midpoint. While continuing stable non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and disease modifying antirheumatic drug therapies, the patients averaged additional 57% and 75% reductions from baseline in tender joint count and total pain score, respectively, on the prednisone therapy. The prednisone therapy was differentiated by improvement from that of a placebo by six of the nine parameters evaluated. The adverse events were no more frequent with prednisone than with placebo use. The efficacy of prednisone was increased threefold while reducing consumption by 40% when compared to the predecessor 5-mg prednisone/day clinical trial.