Two double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, multicentre, multinational, parallel-group studies were carried out to identify the optimum dose of intranasal sumatriptan for the acute treatment of migraine. Study medication was taken as a single dose through one nostril in the first study, and as a divided dose through two nostrils in the second study. Totals of 245 and 210 patients with a history of migraine were recruited into the one- and two-nostril studies, respectively. In both studies, headache severity had significantly improved at 120 min after doses of 10-40 mg sumatriptan compared to placebo (P < 0.05) and the greatest efficacy rates were obtained with 20 mg sumatriptan. With 20 mg sumatriptan 78% and 74% of patients experienced headache relief in one- and two-nostril studies respectively. Sumatriptan was generally well tolerated, the most frequently reported event being taste disturbance. The results of the two studies are similar and indicate that administering sumatriptan as a divided dose via two nostrils confers no significant advantage over single-nostril administration.