In a double-blind study, 135 inpatients with a diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia were randomly assigned to 8 weeks of treatment with one of six parallel treatments: risperidone (a new central 5-hydroxytryptamine2 and dopamine D2 antagonist), 2, 6, 10, 16 mg/day; haloperidol, 20 mg/day; or placebo, after a single-blind placebo washout period. Doses were increased in fixed increments up to a fixed maintenance dose reached after 1 week. On the Clinical Global Impression-Severity of Illness and Improvement, all active medications were superior to placebo except for risperidone (2 mg) on the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement. On the total Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) score and positive subscale, superiority to placebo was observed for all treatment groups except for haloperidol and risperidone (2 mg), which tended to be superior to placebo on total PANSS and the positive subscale, respectively. On the PANSS negative subscale, only risperidone (6 mg/day) was significantly better than placebo. Risperidone (6 mg) was superior to haloperidol on the total PANSS, General Psychopathology, and Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale subscales. Although there was a linear increase in parkinsonism with increasing risperidone dosage, there were no statistically significant differences between risperidone (2, 6, and 16 mg/day) and placebo. At doses of 6 to 16 mg, risperidone displayed a marked antidyskinetic effect compared with placebo. This effect was more pronounced in patients with severe dyskinesia. By contrast, haloperidol produced significantly more parkinsonism than placebo and risperidone (2, 6 and 16 mg), with no effect on tardive dyskinesia. These data suggest that risperidone, at the optimal therapeutic dose of 6 mg/day, produced significant improvement in both positive and negative symptoms without an increase in drug-induced parkinsonian symptoms and with a significant beneficial effect on tardive dyskinesia.