Vitamin C and zinc play important roles in nutrition, immune defence and maintenance of health. Intake of both is often inadequate, even in affluent populations. The common cold continues to place a great burden on society in terms of suffering and economic loss. After an overview of the literature on the effects of the separate administration of either vitamin C or zinc against the common cold, this article presents data from two preliminary, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, conducted with a combination of 1000 mg vitamin C plus 10 mg zinc in patients with the common cold. In both studies, a nonsignificant reduction of rhinorrhoea duration (range 9-27%) was seen. In pooled analyses of both studies (n=94), vitamin C plus zinc was significantly more efficient than placebo at reducing rhinorrhoea over 5 days of treatment. Furthermore, symptom relief was quicker and the product was well tolerated. In view of the burden associated with the common cold, supplementation with vitamin C plus zinc may represent an efficacious measure, with a good safety profile, against this infectious viral disease.