Summary. This randomized, controlled, multicentre study evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of the oral direct thrombin inhibitor ximelagatran, compared with a low-molecular-weight heparin (dalteparin) followed by warfarin, in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) of the lower extremity. Patients with acute DVT received oral ximelagatran (24, 36, 48 or 60 mg twice daily) or dalteparin and warfarin for 2 weeks. Evaluation of paired venograms from 295 of 350 patients showed regression of the thrombus in 69% of patients treated with ximelagatran and 69% of patients treated with dalteparin and warfarin. Progression was observed in 8% and 3% of patients, respectively. Changes in thrombus size according to the Marder score were similar in all groups. Treatment discontinuation due to bleeding occurred in two patients receiving ximelagatran (24- and 36-mg groups) and in two patients receiving dalteparin and warfarin. Reduction in pain, edema and circumference of the affected leg was similar in all groups. Oral ximelagatran appears to be a promising alternative to current anticoagulant therapy to limit the progression of acute DVT, and it seems to possess a wide therapeutic window.