Neurologists have several choices of drugs that have been shown to be effective for the treatment of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Among the first options are the dopamine agonists, which are commonly used both as an early monotherapy and as an adjunct therapy to levodopa. However, before starting any treatment, the overall benefit-to-risk ratio to individual patients must be considered. For the dopamine agonists, the available evidence on their symptomatic efficacy, effect on long-term levodopa-related motor complications, putative effect on progression of disease, and adverse event profile must be taken into account. Recently, the occurrence of adverse events such as leg oedema, daytime somnolence, impulse control disorders, and fibrosis have increasingly been recognised. The risks of these potentially serious adverse events must therefore be taken into account and treatment decisions should be based on considerations of risks versus benefits for individual patients.