This article reviews the use of conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in the treatment of early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The Finnish early RA cohorts are used as examples of how early and active treatment strategies have improved over time with increasing variety of available DMARDs. Therapy goals of early RA include remission to prevent severe long-term outcomes of RA. Remission can be achieved in a third of patients with early RA using a combination of conventional DMARDs, including methotrexate, sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, and prednisolone. Of patients with early RA, 20% to 30% do not improve enough with conventional treatments and should be identified at early phases to consider institution of biologic agents.