A double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter trial was conducted to determine the efficacy of oral testosterone treatment (200 mg three times daily) in men with alcoholic cirrhosis. By skewed randomization (3:2), 134 patients received testosterone and 87 placebo. Patients were followed from 8 to 62 months (median = 28 months). In the testosterone group, 33 patients died (25%; 95% confidence limits = 18 to 33%) as compared to 18 (21%; 95% confidence limits = 13 to 31%) in the placebo group. Taking age and significant prognostic variables into consideration, this corresponds with a relative mortality risk of 1.17 (95% confidence limits = 0.65 to 2.15) in the testosterone group vs. the placebo group. Testosterone treatment did not significantly affect liver biochemistry, prevalence of complications to cirrhosis or causes of death. Patients treated with testosterone developed significantly (p less than 0.05) higher serum testosterone and blood hemoglobin concentrations and significantly (p less than 0.05) lower plasma IgM concentrations as compared to the placebo group. The prevalence of gynecomastia decreased significantly (p less than 0.05) in the testosterone group as compared to the placebo group. We conclude that oral testosterone treatment has no beneficial effect on survival and liver biochemistry in men with alcoholic cirrhosis, and adverse effects cannot be excluded.