Over the last 10 years, several studies have investigated the ability of glucosamine sulfate to improve the symptoms (pain and function) and to delay the structural progression of osteoarthritis. There is now a large, convergent body of evidence that glucosamine sulfate, given at a daily oral dose of 1,500 mg, is able to significantly reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis in the lower limbs and spine. This effect is usually seen with a minimal time for the onset of significant action - around 2 weeks. A similar dose of glucosamine sulfate has also been shown, in two independent studies, to prevent the joint space narrowing observed at the femorotibial compartment in patients with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis. This effect, which is not affected by the radiographic technique used for the assessment of joint space width, also translated into a 50% reduction in the incidence of osteoarthritis-related surgery of the lower limbs during a 5-year period following the withdrawal of the treatment. There is a high degree of consistency in the literature showing that when glucosamine sulfate is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis, an efficacious response with minimum side effects can be expected. Since some discrepancies have been described between the results of studies performed with a patent-protected formulation of glucosamine sulfate distributed as a drug and those having used glucosamine preparations purchased from global suppliers, packaged, and sold over-the-counter as nutritional supplements (not regulated as drugs and with some potential issues concerning the reliability of their content), caution should be used when extrapolating conclusive results obtained with prescription drugs to over-the-counter or food supplements.