In a controlled trial the effect of traditional Chinese acupuncture v. placebo acupuncture was evaluated in 18 patients with chronic tension headache (mean disease duration 15 years). All patients suffered from daily or frequently recurring headache, the intensity of which was recorded by the patient over a period of 15 weeks. Each patient was treated by traditional Chinese acupuncture as well as by placebo acupuncture in a cross-over design following randomization. Each period of treatment comprised six treatments. Traditional Chinese acupuncture was found to be significantly more pain-relieving than placebo acupuncture, according to the pain registration of the patients themselves. The pain reduction was 31%. Acupuncture is therefore found to be a reasonable treatment for chronic tension headache.