To evaluate the efficacy of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) in healing of chronic varicose ulcers, 19 patients with this condition were included in a double-blind controlled clinical trial. All patients received standard ulcer therapy throughout the duration of the study and were randomly divided into two groups to receive either active or inactive PEMF therapy. Active therapy was provided by the use of a pait of helmholtz coils on a twice weekly basis over a five week period and inactive therapy was provided on an identical regimen with identical coils wound so that no magnetic field was produced when an electric current was passed through them. The clinician and patients were unable to distinguish the active or inactive coils. No statistically relevant difference was noted between the two groups in the healing rates of the ulcer, change in the lower leg girth, pain or infection rates. However there was a trend in favour of a decrease in ulcer size and lower leg girth in the group treated with active PEMF. As PEMF is a novel treatment for chronic varicose ulcers, more work needs to be done to establish treatment parameters and its usefulness in the treatment of this condition.