A firm theoretical basis for patient education in rheumatic disease care has been built up over the past 10 to 15 years. Education in self-management has enabled patients to control symptoms and become partners in care with their health providers. Education for fibromyalgia patients has come to the foreground during the last 5 years as health professionals have come to understand the syndrome better and recognize the role that stress plays in the exacerbation of symptoms. A few controlled trials of various strategies, such as aerobic conditioning and cognitive-behavioural techniques, have been reported recently. All have shown significant benefits to patients with fibromyalgia. Only one controlled trial has studied the effects of a self-management education programme alone. The results of this programme were positive. Self-efficacy and life quality were enhanced. This programme and an uncontrolled programme that integrated many strategies have shown some of the first positive long-term indications that patients who are treated intensively for even a short time can continue to improve as they practice self-management techniques. There is still a need for further documentation of non-drug treatment strategies and especially further research into who is helped by which strategies, the optimal length of time for a programme, and the need for ongoing treatment.