A study with needle acupuncture was performed in tension-type headache employing a new placebo acupuncture method. Sixty-nine patients (mean age 48.1 years, sd = 14.1) fulfilling the International Headache Society criteria for tension-type headache were randomly assigned to verum or placebo condition. No significant differences between placebo and verum with respect to visual analogue scale and frequency of headache attacks could be observed immediately, 6 weeks and 5 months after the end of treatment. There was a significant but weak improvement in quality of life parameters (clinical global impressions, Nottingham Health Profile) after verum treatment. In decision tree analyses, the changes in clinical global impressions and headache frequency depended significantly on primary headache frequency with a limit value of 24.5 days headache per month. High values in the von Zerssen Depression Score resulted in high mean visual analogue scale values.