Benign asymptomatic or painful enlargement of the male breast is a common problem, postulated to be due to an increased estrogen/testosterone ration or due to increased estrogenic or decreased androgenic stimulation via estrogen or androgen receptor interactions. Treatment at present consists of analgesic medication or surgery. However, treatment directed against the preponderance of estrogenic stimulation would seem to represent a more specific form of therapy. In the present double-blind crossover study, one-month courses of a placebo or the antiestrogen tamoxifen (10 mg given orally bid) were compared in random order. Seven of ten patients experienced a decrease in the size of their gynecomastia due to tamoxifen (P less than 0.005). Overall, the decrease for gynecomastia for the whole group was significant (P less than 0.01). There was no beneficial effect of placebo (P greater than 0.1). Additionally, all four patients with painful gynecomastia experienced symptomatic relief. There was no toxicity. The reduction of breast size was partial and may indicate the need for a longer course of therapy. A followup examination was performed in eight out of ten patients nine months to one year after discontinuing placebo and tamoxifen. There were no significant changes from the end of the initial study period except for one tamoxifen responder who developed a recurrence of breast tenderness after six months, and one nonresponder who demonstrated an increase in breast size and a new onset of tenderness after ten months. Therefore, antiestrogenic treatment with tamoxifen may represent a safe and effective mode of treatment for selected cases of cosmetically disturbing or painful gynecomastia.