Treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) is challenging owing to the inefficacy and long-term adverse events of currently available medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Curcuminoids are polyphenolic phytochemicals with established anti-inflammatory properties and protective effects on chondrocytes. The aim of this study is to investigate the clinical efficacy of curcuminoids in patients suffering from knee OA. A pilot randomized double-blind placebo-control parallel-group clinical trial was conducted among patients with mild-to-moderate knee OA. Patients were assigned to curcuminoids (1500 mg/day in 3 divided doses; n = 19) or matched placebo (n = 21) for 6 weeks. Efficacy measures were changes in Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), visual analogue scale (VAS) and Lequesne's pain functional index (LPFI) scores during the study. There was no significant difference in age, gender, body mass index, and VAS, WOMAC and LPFI scores between the study groups at baseline (p > 0.05). Treatment with curcuminoids was associated with significantly greater reductions in WOMAC (p = 0.001), VAS (p < 0.001) and LPFI (p = 0.013) scores compared with placebo. With respect to WOMAC subscales, there were significant improvements in the pain and physical function scores (p < 0.001) but not stiffness score (p > 0.05). There was no considerable adverse effect in both groups. To conclude, curcuminoids represent an effective and safe alternative treatment for OA. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.