4-Aminopyridine (4-AP), a potassium channel blocker, restores conduction in blocked, demyelinated animal nerve. Its administration to multiple sclerosis (MS) patients produces transient neurological improvements. Vision improves after either oral or intravenous administration, whereas motor function improvement has been reported only with the latter. To assess further its potential as a practical symptomatic treatment, we studied the efficacy of single, oral doses of 4-AP on both visual and motor signs in MS. Twenty temperature-sensitive male MS patients were given either 10 to 25 mg of 4-AP or identically appearing lactose placebo capsules. Static quantitative perimetry, critical flicker-fusion, visual acuity, visual evoked potentials, and videotaped neurological examinations were monitored. All of 15 MS patients given 4-AP mildly to markedly improved. Motor functions (power, coordination, gait) improved in 9 of 13 involved, vision in 11 of 13, and oculomotor functions in 1 of 2. Improvements developed gradually at doses as low as 10 mg, usually beginning within 60 minutes after drug administration, and reversed gradually over 4 to 7 hours. No serious adverse effects occurred. No significant changes were observed in 5 MS patients given placebo. We conclude that orally administered 4-AP produces clinically important improvements in multiple, chronic deficits in MS. Further studies are warranted to assess efficacy and safety of prolonged administration.