The inflammation which follows cryotherapy is a significant disadvantage of this therapeutic modality. To date, the only treatment shown to reduce this inflammation is application of topical corticoids. We have therefore conducted a pilot study to investigate whether pretreatment with the free radical scavengers, vitamins C and E might alleviate the signs and symptoms of inflammation following liquid nitrogen cryotherapy of common warts. We undertook a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study. We recruited 40 adult patients, of whom 38 returned for evaluation. Treatments comprised vitamin C (2000 mg) and vitamin E (800 IU) daily or matching placebo for 7 days prior to cryotherapy to a hand wart. Oedema volume, erythema level, pain intensity and the presence or absence of blistering were assessed 24 h after cryotherapy. There were no significant differences between the two treatment groups in any of the parameters assessed. This study yielded no suggestion of benefit from the use of pretreatment with free radical scavengers in conjunction with liquid nitrogen cryotherapy.