The tolerability and efficacy of naproxen sodium and of ergotamine tartrate plus caffeine (ergotamine) were compared in the treatment of acute migraine attacks and associated symptoms. In this multicenter, double-blind, parallel study of up to six headaches over a 3-month period, patients took naproxen sodium 825 mg, ergotamine 2 mg, or placebo at the time of the first symptom of an attack; 30 minutes later, if necessary, patients repeated naproxen sodium 275 mg, ergotamine 1 mg or placebo, as appropriate. Rescue medication was allowed 30 minutes following the second dose if needed. Active drugs provided notably better relief of head pain than did placebo; 1 hour following the first dose the difference between naproxen sodium and placebo was statistically significant. Naproxen sodium was as efficacious as ergotamine in the relief of migraine attacks and associated symptoms. Relief of vomiting, nausea, photophobia, and motor symptoms favored naproxen sodium over ergotamine; these differences were statistically significant for nausea and motor symptoms. Ergotamine-treated patients reported more complaints and had more severe and longer-lasting complaints than patients on the other two regimens. Overall tolerance ratings by both investigators and patients indicated that naproxen sodium and placebo were tolerated significantly better than ergotamine.