Loratadine is a long-acting antihistamine agent, exhibiting partial selectivity for peripheral histamine H1-receptors. To date, loratadine has been evaluated in allergic rhinitis, urticaria and, to a limited extent, in asthma. In several large controlled comparative clinical studies, loratadine was superior to placebo, faster acting than astemizole and as effective as azatadine, cetirizine, chlorpheniramine (chlorphenamine), clemastine, hydroxyzine, mequitazine and terfenadine in patients with allergic rhinitis and chronic urticaria. The clinical effectiveness of loratadine in asthma is at present unclear. Loratadine is well tolerated. At dosages of 10 mg daily, commonly reported adverse events were somnolence, fatigue and headache. Sedation occurred less frequently with loratadine than with azatadine, cetirizine, chlorpheniramine, clemastine and mequitazine. Serious ventricular arrhythmias, as reported with some other second generation histamine H1-receptor antagonists, have not been observed with loratadine to date. Thus, loratadine, with its attributes of once daily administration, fast onset of action and essentially nonsedating properties, would appear to be an appropriate first-line agent for the treatment of allergic rhinitis or urticaria.