A 3-day course of azithromycin was compared with the 10 days of other antibiotics, which general practitioners routinely use as therapy for community acquired pneumonia (CAP). The study was a prospective open labelled, randomised, multicentre, comparative study from five family clinics. Patients with clinical and radiological evidence of pneumonia were included. The pneumonia resolved in 98.4% (61/62) of patients treated with azithromycin and in 87% (40/46) of patients treated with other antibiotics (P < 0.017). Restitution of normal function at home (2.3 +/- 1.2 and 4.3 +/- 2.6 days) and return to work (3.4 +/- 2.0 and 5.5 +/- 3.1 days) was more rapid among the group treated with azithromycin ( P < 0.001). Three days of azithromycin was more convenient and cost effective than the comparators used to treat pneumonia.