The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on pain relief and functional performance in patients with chronic knee osteoarthritis (OA). Forty patients with knee OA were randomly assigned into active laser group (n = 20) and placebo laser group (n = 20). The LLLT device used was a Ga-As diode laser with a power output of 50 mW, a wavelength of 850 nm, and a diameter beam of 1 mm. Eight points were irradiated and received dosage of 6 J/point for 60 s, with a total dosage of 48 J/cm(2) in each session. The placebo group was identical but treated without emission of energy. LLLT was applied two times per week over the period of 4 weeks. Outcome measurements included pain intensity at rest and at movement on visual analog scale, knee function using Western Ontario McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index scale, and ambulation duration. These measurements were collected at baseline and post-intervention. The results showed significant improvements in all assessment parameters in both groups compared to baseline. Active laser group showed significant differences in pain intensity at rest and movement, knee function, and ambulation duration when compared with the placebo group. Therefore, LLLT seemed to be an effective modality for short-term pain relief and function improvement in patients with chronic knee OA.