Oral lichen planus (OLP) is a common chronic inflammatory disease associated with cell-mediated immunological dysfunction. Symptomatic OLP is painful and complete healing is rare. The aim of this review was to assess the evidence for the efficacy and safety of treatments for symptomatic OLP. The Cochrane Oral Health Group Trials Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched in January 2011 to identify all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating any intervention for the treatment of symptomatic OLP. A total of 28 trials were included in this Cochrane review. There was no evidence from three RCTs that topical pimecrolimus is better than placebo in reducing pain from OLP. There was weak evidence from two RCTs that topical aloe vera may be associated with a reduction in pain compared with placebo. There was weak and unreliable evidence from two small trials, at high risk of bias, that topical ciclosporin may reduce pain and clinical signs of OLP. There was no evidence (from five trials each evaluating a different steroid and/or calcineurin inhibitor) that there is a difference between treatment with topical corticosteroids (TCSs) compared with topical calcineurin inhibitors with regard to reducing pain associated with OLP or that any specific steroid therapy is more or less effective at reducing pain. Although TCSs are considered to be the first-line treatment, we did not identify any RCTs that compared TCSs with placebo in patients with symptomatic OLP. From the 28 trials included in this systematic review, the wide range of interventions compared means there is insufficient evidence to support the superior effectiveness of any specific treatment.