Ninety patients with venographically proven deep venous thrombosis(DVT) but without clinical signs of pulmonary embolism(PE) were randomized into two different treatment regimens to compare the safety and efficacy of continuous intravenous heparin and oral anticoagulant(AC) treatment versus non-AC treatment. All patients in the two treatment groups were actively mobilized from the day of admission and wore graduated compressing stockings. In the non-AC-group the patients were treated with phenylbutazone for ten days. Treatment with heparin was maintained for 6 days and oral AC treatment was given from the third day and continued for 3 months. Venography was repeated after 30 days. A perfusion-ventilation lung scan was performed on day 1-2, 10 and 60. In fifty-nine patients a revenography was performed, twenty nine in the AC-group and thirty in the non-AC group. For distal veins regression was found in nine and eight respectively (4.4% in favour of AC, 95% confidence limit 27.5% to -18.7%) and in proximal veins regression was found in five and eight, respectively (10.9% in favour of AC, 95% confidence limit 32.0% to -10.1%). No difference in lung scans was found after 10 days (0.8% in favour of AC, 95% confidence limit 21.5% to -19.9%) or after 60 days (3.3% in favour of non-AC treatment, 95% confidence limit 21.8% to -28.5%). In the AC group the incidence of bleeding complications was 8.3%. No side-effects of phenylbutazone was found. The present controlled clinical study demonstrated no effect of AC-treatment on DVT progression in actively mobilized patients wearing graduated compressing stockings when compared to a non-AC treated group receiving analgetic therapy with phenylbutazone. However, the patient population of the study is relatively small with wide confidence intervals for differences between groups. Before more general recommendations can be made, a large scale placebo-controlled study is needed to evaluate the possible effect of AC-treatment in DVT patients, who can be mobilized from the first day.