External qigong as a pharmacotherapy adjunct was investigated in 50 subjects with chronic pain (pain lasting > 3 months with pain score of > or = 3 on 0-10 numeric analog scale) who presented to a qigong healing center. Participants were randomized to receive either external qigong treatment (EQT) or equivalent attention time (EAT) in weekly 30-min sessions for four consecutive weeks. Outcomes were assessed before and after sessions. The primary outcome measure was intensity of pain by a 10-cm visual analog scale used to rate all pain severity measurements. At 8-week follow-up, participants were contacted by telephone and mailed a questionnaire. Most had experienced pain for > 5 years (66%); the rest, for > 3 to 5 years (8%), 1 to 3 years (10%), or < 1 year but > 3 months (10%). The most frequent concomitant diagnoses were multifactorial (26%), osteoarthritis (18%), and low back pain (12%). Most patients were also receiving other treatments (74%); none previously had EQT. Participants were randomly assigned to EQT (n = 26) or EAT (n = 24). These groups had no significant differences at baseline except for prior awareness of qigong (EQT 31% vs. EAT 63%; p = 0.025). Compared to the EAT group, EQT participants had a significant decrease in pain intensity in the 2nd (p = 0.003), 3rd (p < 0.001), and 4th weeks of treatment (p = 0.003). At week 8, these differences in overall decreased pain intensity persisted but were not statistically significant.