A prospective, randomized, double-blind study was carried out to determine whether vitamin C prophylaxis, 2.0 g/day, vs placebo prophylaxis would reduce the incidence or morbidity of the common cold and other respiratory illnesses in 674 marine recruits during an eight-week period. Whole-blood ascorbic acid levels measured six weeks after initiation of the study were significantly higher in the vitamin C group. There was no difference between the two groups in the incidence or duration of colds. The vitamin C group rated their colds as being less severe, but this was not reflected in different symptom complexes or in fewer sick-call visits or training days lost. This study and the literature do not support the prophylactic use of vitamin C to prevent the common cold.