Magnesium is a known inhibitor of the formation of calcium oxalate crystals in the urine and was proposed for prophylactic treatment in renal stone disease as early as the 17th and 18th centuries. We have treated 55 patients with recurrent renal calcium stone disease without signs of magnesium deficiency (normal serum magnesium, urinary magnesium, intracellular magnesium in muscle biopsies, gastrointestinal absorption of 28Mg, and magnesium loading test) from our outpatient stone clinic for up to four years with 500 mg Mg2+, in the form of Mg(OH)2, daily. The mean stone episode rate before therapy was 0.8 stones/year/patient. Forty-three recurrent renal calcium stone-formers without medical therapy served as controls. Serum magnesium increased initially but after one year returned to the pretreatment level. Urinary magnesium excretion increased promptly and remained elevated during the follow-up period. The urinary calcium excretion remained unchanged. The magnesium/calcium ratio in the urine increased and approached a value earlier found in healthy subjects without stone disease. Urinary citrate increased on therapy when analysed after three years of treatment. The mean stone episode rate decreased from 0.8 to 0.08 stones/year on treatment and 85% of the patients remained free of recurrence during follow-up, whereas 59% of the patients in the control group continued their stone formation. Side effects were few. Magnesium treatment in renal calcium stone disease is effective with few side effects. No clinical signs of magnesium excess were observed.