A double-blind study of the efficacy of adenine arabinoside in the treatment of patients with variola major was conducted. Adenine arabinoside (20 mg/kg of body weight) was given to patients intravenously every 24 hr for seven days in a 8-hr infusion. Five of the nine patients receiving adinine arabinoside died, and four of 11 patients receiving placebo died. Mortality was related to the severity of illness for both groups of patients. No difference was found between the drug and control groups in number of febrile days after initiation of therapy or in the period during which it was possible to isolate virus from skin lisions, throat swabs, and sources of clotted blood. Formation of scabs on skin lesions was complete 8.3 days after the initiation of therapy for the drug group and after 11.3 days for the control group. The findings suggest that adenine arabinoside is not effective in the chemotherapy of smallpox.