Low-dose corticosteroids (defined as less than or equal to 10 mg/d of prednisone or equivalent) are used increasingly for the management of rheumatoid arthritis. They are frequently substituted for nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), particularly in patients with gastrointestinal or other intolerance to NSAIDs, or as "bridge therapy" while patients await the benefits of delayed-acting, disease-modifying agents. Despite their clinical acceptance, published data concerning efficacy are meager. Adverse effects to low-dose corticosteroids are not so frequent nor so severe as those that occur with higher doses. Nevertheless, alterations in glucose metabolism, cutaneous atrophy, cataracts, and glaucoma are common. Osteoporosis, steroid-myopathy, a steroid-withdrawal syndrome, and dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis appear in some patients. Osteonecrosis, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, infectious, or neurological complications probably do not occur. Fetal wastage, prematurity, or congenital malformations have not been proven with this dosage.