Management of intractable venous ulceration remains an unrewarding task which is increasingly delegated to the realm of the vascular surgeon. The purpose of this pilot study was to assess the ulcer-healing effects of the newest form of biostimulation--the low power laser. Twelve patients with chronic venous ulcers unresponsive to conservative measures were treated with infrared laser irradiation for twelve weeks. Two ulcers healed completely and there was a 27% (p less than 0.01) reduction in size of the remaining ulcers. Treatment resulted in a 44% (p less than 0.01) increase in ulcer floor area occupied by healthy granulation tissue. The most dramatic effect of laser treatment was the reduction in ulcer pain, from 7.5 to 3.5 (linear analogue scale) (p less than 0.001). Laser irradiation had no effect on TcPO2, number of skin capillaries or pericapillary fibrin deposition in the lipodermatosclerotic area around the ulcer. The results of this pilot study are encouraging and a carefully controlled randomized study is indicated to compare low power laser irradiation to conventional treatment in the management of venous ulcers.