The impact of 'half shoes' in the treatment of neuropathic forefoot ulcers was studied in two groups of diabetic patients, who were treated either by standard treatment alone (retrospective controls, n = 22), or by standard treatment plus 'half shoes' (cases, n = 26). The groups were matched for sex, age, type, and duration of diabetes and ulcer grading. The 'half-shoe' cases' vs controls' median overall healing time was 70 vs 118 days, the median difference being 48 (95% CI: -5 to 82) days (NS). In the case group, hospitalization was required in 1/26 (4%) of patients, vs 9/22 (41%) of the control patients (chi-square, p < 0.01). The home nursing service was required in 23% of the cases vs 18% of the controls (NS). It is concluded that the use of half-shoes, in conjunction with standard treatment provided by a specialized diabetic foot clinic, may reduce the overall healing time and does reduce the hospitalization rate. This has implications for a rational strategy of treating unilateral diabetic neuropathic foot ulcers.