We compared the efficacy and safety of ropinirole with that of bromocriptine after 6 months of treatment in a planned interim analysis of a 3-year, double-blind, randomized, multicenter study of 335 patients with early Parkinson's disease requiring dopaminergic therapy. Patients, treated with or without selegiline, received either ropinirole or bromocriptine. The mean Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) total motor examination scores (Part III) at baseline were similar in the four strata. Overall, and in the non-selegiline subgroup, the percentage improvement in the UPDRS total motor examination score was significantly higher for ropinirole than for bromocriptine, as was the proportion of "responders." In the selegiline subgroup, however, there was no significant difference between treatments. Similarly, in the non-selegiline subgroup, there was a significantly higher proportion of "improvers" on the Clinical Global Impression scale with ropinirole than with bromocriptine, whereas in the selegiline subgroup, there was no significant difference. Emergent adverse events occurred in 80% of patients in both treatment groups, the principal symptom in each group being nausea. The incidence of serious adverse events was low (3% for ropinirole, 6.6% for bromocriptine). The data indicate that (a) in the absence of selegiline, ropinirole is effective and superior to bromocriptine; and (b) selegiline does not affect the response in patients treated with ropinirole, but enhances the effects of bromocriptine.