In this multicentre, double-blind, parallel group study, we evaluated the efficacy and safety of continuous treatment with itraconazole, 200 mg daily for 3 months, in comparison with itraconazole pulse therapy, 400 mg daily 1 week per month for 3 months, in the treatment of toe-nail onychomycosis. The study included 129 patients with distal subungual onychomycosis of the toe-nails, confirmed by microscopy and positive for dermatophyte culture; 65 received continuous treatment and 64 received pulse therapy. Patients were followed up for 9 months after treatment. After 12 months, there were 62 evaluable patients in the continuous group and 59 evaluable patients in the pulse group. The clinical response (i.e. the size of the affected area and the progress of the infection) and mycological cure (i.e. negative results on microscopy and culture) were the main outcome measures. A clinical response was defined as a cure or a marked improvement. Clinical response rates were 69%, in the continuous group, and 81% in the pulse group at month 12; the corresponding mycological cure rates were 66 and 69%. A better improvement in signs and symptoms was noted in the pulse group. Six patients were withdrawn from treatment because of adverse events, not all of which were thought to be drug-related. There were no clinically relevant laboratory abnormalities. We conclude that both regimens are effective, safe and well tolerated. The superiority of one treatment over the other was not established, but the results tended to favour pulse therapy. Equivalence testing confirmed that pulse therapy was at least equivalent to continuous treatment.