To determine whether methotrexate (MTX) maintains its effectiveness in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the setting of community based private rheumatology practice we used life table analysis to review the combined experience of a group of these practices. Of 587 patients with RA who started to take MTX, total termination rate at 70 months was 24.4% with most terminations prompted by drug toxicity. Older age (greater than 65 years) was associated with higher rates of toxicity. Treatment termination rates varied substantially between rheumatologists. We conclude that MTX therapy for RA is well tolerated and maintains effectiveness for at least 70 months.