L-carnitine was studied in forty-four men with stable chronic angina in a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled crossover trial. A cycloergometer exercise test was performed after a 10-day wash-out with placebo and at the end of each 4-week treatment period with either L-carnitine (1 g twice daily) or placebo. The mean (+/- SD) exercise work load showed an increase after L-carnitine compared to placebo (102.73 +/- 22.23 and 97.05 +/- 22.77 watts respectively, p = 0.001), as did the watts to onset of angina (95.7 +/- 24.07 and 87.44 +/- 24.67, p = 0.000). On the contrary, the ST segment depression was reduced by L-carnitine compared to placebo both at the maximum work load (1.40 +/- 0.90 and 1.69 +/- 0.82 mm, p = 0.05) and at the maximum work load common to L-carnitine and placebo (1.24 +/- 0.90 and 1.66 +/- 0.79 mm, p = 0.005). 22.7% of the patients became free of angina with L-carnitine and 9.1% with placebo. Resting and exercise blood pressure, heart-rate and double product were unaffected by L-carnitine. 1 patient decided to discontinue the trial because of gastric pyrosis while taking the active drug. The results of this study show that treatment with L-carnitine increases exercise tolerance and reduces ECG indices of ischemia in stable effort-induced angina.