A double-blind, threefold crossover, double-dummy trial was performed, investigating the efficacy of 200 mg ibuprofen compared with 500 mg acetylsalicylic acid and placebo in patients who usually treated their headaches with over-the-counter drugs. Ninety-five patients suffering from mild to moderate migraine or episodic tension-type headache were included. Seventy-seven patients entered the intention-to-treat analysis and 65 completed all three treatments. For the main response criterion, a minimum 50% decrease of headache intensity on a visual analogue scale at I h after treatment, ibuprofen was significantly superior to acetylsalicylic acid and placebo. This was true for migraine attacks and tension-type headache episodes. Towards the end of the observation period (150 min), the differences between ibuprofen and acetylsalicylic acid were no longer significant. In conclusion, ibuprofen was at least equivalent to acetylsalicylic acid and superior to placebo.