The aim of this study was to compare acupuncture, relaxation training and physical training in the treatment of chronic tension-type headache (CTTH). The study comprised 90 consecutive patients with CTTH who were randomly allocated to acupuncture, relaxation training or physical training. Headache intensity, headache-free days and headache-free periods were registered using a visual analogue scale and a headache diary. The measurements were made 4 weeks before, immediately after, and 3 and 6 months after the treatment period. Immediately after the last treatment, the number of headache-free periods and of headache-free days was higher in the relaxation group compared with the acupuncture group. There were no other significant differences between the groups at any time point. The clinical implications of our findings are that relaxation training induced the most pronounced effects directly after the treatment period, compared with acupuncture and physical training.