Despite vaccination, influenza remains a common of morbidity in nursing homes. Chemoprophylaxis of residents with currently available antivirals is not always effective and new agents effective against both influenza A and B are needed. In a randomized, unblinded pilot study, we compared 14 day chemoprophylaxis with zanamivir, an antiviral which inhibits influenza neuraminidase, to standard of care during sequential influenza A and influenza B outbreaks in a 735 bed nursing home. Influenza A outbreaks were declared on 6/14 epidemic units. Sixty-five volunteers on four epidemic units were randomized to zanamivir and on two epidemic units, 23 volunteers were randomized to rimantadine. During the 14 days of prophylaxis, only four new febrile respiratory illnesses were detected. One volunteer receiving rimantadine prophylaxis developed laboratory-confirmed influenza. Influenza B outbreaks were declared on 3/14 epidemic units. Thirty-five volunteers on two epidemic units were randomized to zanamivir and 18 volunteers on one epidemic unit were randomized to no drug. During the 14 days of prophylaxis, only one new febrile respiratory illness was detected. One volunteer randomized to receive no drug developed laboratory-confirmed influenza. Zanamivir appears comparably effective to standard of care in preventing influenza-like illness and laboratory-confirmed influenza in nursing homes, but requires further testing.