Twenty-two patients with distal diabetic polyneuropathy confirmed both clinically and by objective nerve function studies, completed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the effect of dietary supplementation with gamma-linolenic acid on their neuropathy. Patients received either 360 mg gamma-linolenic acid (12 patients) or indistinguishable placebo capsules (10 patients) for 6 months. All patients were assessed at the beginning and end of the study period by neuropathy symptom and sign scoring, motor and sensory nerve conduction studies, and thermal threshold measurements. When compared with the placebo group, patients on gamma-linolenic acid showed statistically significant improvement in neuropathy symptom scores (p less than 0.001), median nerve motor conduction velocity (p less than 0.01) and compound muscle action potential amplitude (p less than 0.01), peroneal nerve motor conduction velocity (p less than 0.05) and compound muscle action potential amplitude (p less than 0.05), median (p less than 0.01) and sural (p less than 0.001) sensory nerve action potential amplitude and ankle heat threshold (p less than 0.001) and cold threshold (p less than 0.01) values. gamma-Linolenic acid therapy might have a useful role in the prevention and treatment of distal diabetic polyneuropathy.