We report the effects of a single bedtime dose of L-dopa 100-200 mg on sleep quality, frequency of periodic leg movements (PLM) and daily living in patients with idiopathic and uremic restless legs syndrome (RLS). Seventeen patients with idiopathic and 11 with uremic (on continuous hemodialysis) RLS were evaluated comparatively by polysomnography, actigraphy and subjective ratings in a randomized, controlled and double-blind crossover trial with L-dopa and placebo for 4 weeks each. Neurophysiologic assessments showed significant reduction of the number of periodic leg movements (p = 0.003) and the PLM-index (p = 0.005) most pronounced during the first 4 hours of bedtime after L-dopa (p = 0.001). Subjective evaluation confirmed improvement of sleep quality (p = 0.002) and showed significantly higher quality of life during daytime (p = 0.030) while the patients received L-dopa therapy. We conclude that L-dopa 100-200 mg proved to be effective in idiopathic RLS and for the first time under controlled conditions in uremic RLS without any severe side effects.