The objectives were to introduce a new method for controlled trials of acupuncture in the field of headache research and to examine the role of needling per se. Women with menstrually related migraine were randomized to three months of treatment with verum or placebo needles. Three standard size casts were moulded to secure the placebo needles in the head. No significant differences were found between the verum group (n = 15) and the placebo group (n = 13) during treatment or follow up three and six months later, either in the attack frequency or in the number of days per month with migraine, headache intensity or drug-use. The casts held the needles exactly in place despite movements of the head, and are validated as practical, hygienic and extremely durable. This method is satisfactory for controlled studies of acupuncture in headache. It is possible that the positive results in earlier clinical trials on acupuncture in migraine are attributable to other mechanisms than needling of subcutaneous tissue.