The popularity of complementary medicine is at an all-time high. Rheumatological patients are amongst its most frequent users. This survey was aimed at generating insight into this phenomenon. A self-selected convenience sample of 3384 individuals with 'arthritis' was sent a purpose-designed questionnaire. 1020 completed questionnaires were received (response rate = 30.1%). One third of respondents had received at least one treatment from a complementary practitioner. Orthodox therapies were generally perceived as more effective than complementary treatments. Therapeutic encounters with complementary practitioners were viewed as markedly more satisfying than those with GPs. Adverse effects reported in connection with orthodox treatments were more frequent and severe than those reported with complementary therapies. No firm conclusions can be drawn from these data. However, a hypothesis emerges that complementary medicine is well accepted by rheumatological patients and perceived to have certain advantages over mainstream medicine.