Fifty-eight acromegalic patients were included in a multicenter prospective study of increasing doses (300-1500 micrograms) of SMS 201-995 (octreotide, Sandostatin) administered 3 times daily, sc, during 6 months to determine its effect on signs and symptoms of GH hypersecretion. Subsequently, 34 of the patients were maintained for 12-26 months on the minimal efficacious dose, determined from the previous dose-response study. Some adverse effects were frequently encountered, mostly at the initiation of treatment, and disappeared with time. Asymptomatic gallstones occurred in 5 patients. Minimal changes in carbohydrate tolerance, consisting of a rise in blood glucose and a transient decrease in plasma insulin level after meals, were noted. GH normalized in 22% of the patients, improved in 56%, and remained unchanged in 22% regardless of the dose. The optimal daily dose was 300 micrograms in 50% of the patients and 1500 micrograms in 20%. Pituitary tumor size reduction occurred in 47% of the patients harboring large tumors or tumor remnants. No additional improvement or escape from being controlled occurred with time. These data indicate that SMS 201-995 is an effective treatment for refractory acromegaly and for some de novo patients for whom surgical therapy is not advisable.